CEOL - China throws weight behind YU over Kosovo

BEIJING, Dec 28, 1999 -- (Reuters) China on Monday called for a settlement of the Kosovo issue on the basis of respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yugoslavia, the Xinhua news agency said.

Premier Zhu Rongji told Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic that any settlement of the issue should also guarantee the legitimate rights of all ethnic groups in the country, Xinhua reported.

Jovanovic arrived in China on Saturday at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Tang Jiaxuan for a visit aimed at improving what a Chinese spokeswoman described as "very friendly relations".

Tang told Jovanovic that the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia did not lead to a solution of the Kosovo issue, but rather complicated the situation, Xinhua said.

China, like Russia, opposed NATO's devastating bombing campaign against Yugoslavia over Kosovo earlier this year that was launched without the approval of the U.N. Security Council.

Beijing slammed it as interference in Yugoslavia's internal affairs.

Beijing encourages Chinese enterprises to actively participate in Yugoslavia's reconstruction, Tang said.

China confirmed this month it was providing financial aid for the reconstruction of Yugoslavia following the bombing, but declined to confirm the sum was $300 million, a figure provided by a Yugoslav government source.

The source confirmed the sum after it was disclosed by dissident Serb economist Mladjan Dinkic, who said the money was a gift to be used to import electricity and repair infrastructure damaged in NATO air strikes.

Jovanovic thanked China for supporting his country in "hard times" and welcomed Chinese enterprises to help Yugoslavia's economic restoration, Xinhua said.

During the campaign, NATO bombs destroyed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, killing three Chinese and wounding 27 others.

The United States has paid $4.5 million to the victims and their families and agreed to pay $28 million in compensation to China for damage to the embassy.

Beijing will pay Washington $2.87 million for damage to U.S. missions in China. Chinese protesters burned the U.S. consul general's home in Chengdu and showered the embassy in Beijing with rocks

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