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Extradition Request By U.S. Formally Rejected With Hijack

October 17, 1985

Undated (AP) _ BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) - The Yugoslav government Thursday formally rejected a U.S. request for the extradition of Palestinian leader Mohammed Abbas, who was said to have left Yugoslavia Monday.

Government spokesman Zeljko Jeglic said Yugoslavia was guided by its longstanding policy of recognizing the Palestine liberation Organization as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. Therefore, he said, Abbas had diplomatic immunity because he is a member of the PLO’s executive council.

The government said the extradition request was ″legally unfounded,″ according to Jeglic. The United States, in the Oct. 12 request, accused Abbas of masterminding the Achille Lauro hijacking, in which an American was killed.

Abbas flew to Yugoslavia Saturday from Rome after Italian authorities also declined to hold him.

The PLO mission said he left here Monday for an undisclosed destination. Jeglic declined to confirm the departure.

Jeglic also charged that the United States had broken the conditions for a visit of the aircraft carrier Saratoga, whose jet fighters had earlier forced an Egyptian plane carrying Abbas and the four accused hijackers of the Italian cruise liner to land in Sicily.

Jeglic also said Yugoslavia had filed a protest over the visit of the Saratoga to Dubrovnik Oct. 11-14. The port call had been scheduled a month in advance.

″Despite firm assurances given by the American side to Yugoslav authorities that the vessel Saratoga, before and after the call, will not partake in any military actions or exercises, the aircraft carrier Saratoga sailed into the Dubrovnik port immediately after taking part in the well-known interception of the Egyptian plane,″ he said.

The U.S. Embassy in Belgrade refused to comment on the matter.

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