updated 3/31/2004 1:34:48 PM ET 2004-03-31T18:34:48

The United States suspended $25 million in assistance to Serbia-Montenegro on Wednesday for failing to hand over war crime suspects to the international tribunal at the Hague.

U.S. assistance to Serbia-Montenegro, the successor state to Yugoslavia, has been contingent on cooperation with that Hague tribunal.

State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli made the announcement less than 12 hours ahead of a deadline. For assistance to continue, the administration would have had to certify cooperation.

Ereli said that about $100 million for Serbia-Montenegro has been appropriated for the current fiscal year. Of that amount, he said, $43 million has been spent.

Former army commander best-known suspect
Exempt from the aid cutoff are humanitarian assistance, funds to promote democracy in municipalities and for Kosovo. Ereli said about $25 million is affected by the cutoff.

He added that about 16 war crimes suspects who have not yet been turned over to the tribunal spend the preponderance of their time in Serbia-Montenegro.

Of these, the best known is former Bosnian Serb army commander Gen. Ratko Mladic.

He was indicted by the U.N. court for genocide over the deaths of about 8,000 men and boys in the Bosnian Muslim enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995.

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