US angry at Moscow over YU minister's visit

WASHINGTON, May 17, 2000 -- (Reuters) The United States said on Tuesday it was deeply dismayed that Russia had allowed Yugoslav Defense Minister Dragoljub Ojdanic, indicted by the United Nations for alleged war crimes in Kosovo, to visit Moscow.

"We are raising this on an urgent basis," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told his news briefing.

"Russia, like all UN member states, has the arrest war criminals who enter its territory," he said. The five-day visit, which Boucher called "very deeply dismaying", began on May 7, the day President Vladimir Putin was inaugurated.

A source in the Yugoslav embassy in Moscow said Ojdanic met Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev and the head of the armed forces' general staff Anatoly Kvashnin to discuss military cooperation and the situation in the Balkans. Boucher said only that Ojdanic met senior Russian officials.

Russia traditionally feels solidarity with Yugoslavia as a fellow Slavic, Orthodox nation.

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