updated 7/8/2008 1:46:29 PM ET 2008-07-08T17:46:29

Serbia will cooperate in the case of a Serb basketball player wanted in the United States on assault charges, the foreign minister said Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic did not say if Miladin Kovacevic would be sent to the U.S. to face charges of severely beating a fellow university student.

Serbian law does not allow him to be extradited, and Serb officials have suggested U.S. authorities should hand over the full case file so they can consider whether Kovacevic should be prosecuted in Serbia.

Kovacevic, 20, had been recruited to play basketball for Binghamton University in northern New York, but fled the U.S. in early June after being charged in the beating of Bryan Steinhauer during a May 4 bar fight.

Steinhauer, 22, remains in critical condition in a coma.

"This case does not help; it has dealt a blow to the relations between Washington and Belgrade," Jeremic told reporters.

Jeremic also suggested Serbia planned to prosecute two consulate staffers who were removed from the U.S. after allegedly helping Kovacevic obtain emergency travel documents that helped him flee.

Serbia's pro-Western government, which took office this week, has pledged to improve bilateral relations that have been strained over U.S. recognition of Kosovo's independence.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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