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Clark takes campaign break to testify

/ Source: The Associated Press

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark is breaking from his presidential campaign on Saturday to travel to the Netherlands to testify in closed session at the U.N. war crimes trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

The Democratic candidate, who as supreme commander of NATO led the 1999 bombing campaign to drive Milosevic out of Kosovo, arrives in Amsterdam on Sunday and is scheduled to testify for several hours the following morning at The Hague.

Clark will continue his testimony on Tuesday against the deposed leader, who was ousted in 2000 and later extradited to the U.N. war crimes tribunal. Milosevic faces 66 charges of war crimes committed in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Closed for security reasons
The majority of the trial has been public, but the U.S. government was granted a request that Clark’s appearance be closed for security reasons. The tribunal will publicly broadcast Clark’s testimony on Friday and post it on the Internet, though the State Department could try to have sensitive parts edited out, said tribunal spokesman Jim Landale.

“The point about the delay is for the representatives from the State Department to be able to, if they feel that something has come up which touches on national security interests, they can request redaction,” Landale said.

The three-judge panel would decide whether to grant any requests to edit.

Clark announced last month that the trial’s chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, had asked him to appear and that the U.S. government had authorized the trip.

Long negotiations with Milosevic
In addition to leading the 78-day bombing campaign, Clark served as director of strategy, plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the mid-1990s when the United States was trying to negotiate an end to the war in Bosnia. Clark has said his work involved spending dozens of hours in negotiations with Milosevic.

The presidential candidate could be questioned about his 1994 meeting with Bosnian war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic, which he had over objections from the State Department.

Clark was photographed with Mladic in which the two men wear each other’s military caps. He also accepted gifts from Mladic, which Clark has since said was a mistake.