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Shultz Rebukes Yugoslavia Over Stand on Terrorism

December 18, 1985|NORMAN KEMPSTER | Times Staff Writer

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia — Secretary of State George P. Shultz, pounding the table for emphasis, rebuked Yugoslavia's foreign minister Tuesday for saying that the Belgrade government believes the way to stop terrorism is to eliminate the conditions that cause it.

Shultz, his face flushed, declared that terrorism "has no connection with any cause--it's wrong."

The clash, at a joint press conference by Shultz and Federal Secretary for Foreign Affairs Raif Dizdarevic, demonstrated the continuing friction between the two countries over Yugoslavia's failure to arrest and extradite Abul Abbas, the accused mastermind of the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro.

Shultz and Dizdarevic also disagreed publicly on the nature of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Shultz blamed the PLO for acts of terrorism, but Dizdarevic described the organization as "the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people" and said it does not follow a policy of terrorism.

Shultz' show of public emotion, a rare thing for the secretary, who prides himself on his bland exterior, may have reflected sharp exchanges on the subject during his private meetings with top Yugoslav officials on the final day of a nine-day tour of six European nations.

Abbas, leader of a PLO faction, was aboard an EgyptAir jetliner intercepted by U.S. jets on Oct. 11 and escorted to a base on the Italian island of Sicily. The Italian authorities arrested four other Palestinians aboard, who since have been charged with hijacking the cruise ship and murdering an elderly American passenger, but they freed Abbas. He then flew to Yugoslavia.

Washington called for his arrest, but Yugoslavia refused to detain him although it issued a statement condemning the hijacking itself.

When Shultz was asked Tuesday what he told his Yugoslav hosts about the Abbas case, he said in his usual, low-key way, "I expressed disappointment that he was allowed to pass through Yugoslavia."

Dizdarevic, who said his government had said everything it intended to about Abbas at the time, then expressed Belgrade's opposition to terrorism and added:

"Yugoslavia clearly distinguishes between the struggle against colonialism, against aggression, against racism on the one hand and terrorism on the other. When speaking of terrorism and of the struggle against terrorism, one must also view the causes that lead to it because we believe that by the elimination of the causes of terrorism, the phenomenon itself can be controlled and eliminated."

Face Reddens

Shultz's face reddened as he listened to the English translation of the answer. Although he had already given his own reply to the question, he said he wished to "add a point . . . on the question of causes."

"Hijacking the Italian ship, murdering an American, torturing and holding a whole bunch of other Americans is not justified by any cause that I know of," he said. "It has no connection with any cause. It's wrong."

Banging his fist down sharply on the table, Shultz continued: "The international community must step up to the problem and deal with it, unequivocally, firmly, definitively. There must be no place to hide for people who do this kind of thing."

Shultz then turned to Dizdarevic and said, "You probably feel the same way." Dizdarevic responded, "Yugoslavia is opposed to all forms of terrorism."

Protests to Iraq

Talking to reporters aboard the jetliner that brought him from Budapest, Shultz confirmed reports that Iraq has been harboring Abbas since he left Yugoslavia.

He said Iraq's actions were far worse than Yugoslavia's and revealed that the United States had protested strongly to Iraq. However, he added, U.S. officials decided not to restore the Baghdad government to the State Department list of nations which promote terrorism. Iraq was removed from the list in 1982.

"With respect to Yugoslavia, he passed through; with respect to Iraq, he seems to have been welcomed," Shultz said.

When asked why the Administration had decided against putting Iraq back on the list of terrorist nations, Shultz said: "These people move around, like Abbas. We're not going to put every country he might go through on the list."

At his news conference here, Shultz said the PLO has forfeited the right to participate in the Mideast process because it "advocates the elimination of Israel by armed struggle." He said there is no question that the PLO supports terrorism because "they claim credit for it."

'Liberation Organization'

Dizdarevic replied: "We consider the PLO to be a liberation organization that is the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. The policy of the PLO is not a policy of terrorism, and the act of individual Palestinians or individual groups should not be confused with the . . . policy of the PLO."

The clash over terrorism produced the only discordant note during Shultz' visit to this Communist-ruled nation, which broke with Moscow more than 30 years ago and has converted its economy to one where prices are set by market forces, eliminating the last vestige of government-administered prices.

"The bilateral relationship basically is a good one," Shultz said.

Dizdarevic agreed that relations are good despite the different social systems.

Yugoslavia, plagued with 79% annual inflation, a stagnant economy and what government officials admit is a declining standard of living, urged the United States to help Belgrade reschedule its $19-billion external debt and to lift restrictions on importing Yugoslav goods to the United States.

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