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US rejects visa for Serbia’s armed forces chief of staff

Serbia’s defense minister said the rejection of a visa application for its armed forces chief of staff to visit the United States could have “negative consequences” for military relations between the countries.

Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin said on Thursday, January 11 that Serbia did not receive an explanation for the refusal of a visa for General Ljubiša Diković.

Diković, who was appointed Chief of the General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces in 2011, was invited in October to a Washington, D.C. anti-terrorism conference.

The U.S. Embassy in Belgrade has refused to comment on the general’s application, Associated Press reported.

Vulin said the decision “has badly affected our military-military relations, such a decision does not contribute to our cooperation, such a decision leaves a bad trail,” adding that he hoped the U.S. would reconsider.

The minister said that nothing in Diković’s past should prevent him from obtaining a visa.

However, a Serbian human rights group has accused him of war crimes against ethnic Albanians allegedly committed by troops he commanded during the 1998-99 Kosovo war. A 2012 dossier by the Humanitarian Law Center reportedly describes crimes against Albanian civilians in Kosovo, including murder and rape and deportation, in an area controlled by the 37th Motorised Brigade, which he commanded.

Diković has never been tried for the alleged crimes.

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