Milan Panic, the Southern California businessman who is now Yugoslavia’s prime minister, expressed satisfaction Tuesday with results of a visit here despite his apparent failure to win any concrete promises of assistance from China.
Speaking at a news conference in the Great Hall of the People, Panic said that in a meeting Monday with Chinese Premier Li Peng, he requested “humanitarian” oil shipments from China “for heating for our hospitals, for our children, for our homes.” Panic said he was told the request “will be looked (at) very favorably.”
A U.N.-imposed embargo has led to fuel shortages in Yugoslavia, and the government has expressed growing concern about the coming winter. By describing oil imports as “humanitarian,” Panic was seeking a way around the embargo for at least some fuel. Panic said China expressed willingness to supply humanitarian aid but made no specific promise to sell oil.
Chinese leaders also expressed support for Yugoslavia’s keeping its seat in the United Nations, Panic said. He added, however, that they did not promise to use China’s veto power to block an effort launched Tuesday to expel Yugoslavia from the world organization.
The current Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is composed only of Serbia and Montenegro. Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia, all of which used to be part of Yugoslavia, have declared their independence. Serbia has been widely criticized as bearing major responsibility for the violence that has torn Bosnia in recent months.
Panic, who became prime minister in July, downplayed the importance of the battle over the U.N. seat. He expressed confidence that if Yugoslavia is expelled, it will eventually rejoin.
“I personally really don’t care,” he said. “I want the old Yugoslavia to stop. I want a new Yugoslavia. . . .”
Panic said he is optimistic about peace talks between the factions in Bosnia, tentatively scheduled to start Friday in Geneva.