BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ Yugoslavia said Tuesday it had replaced Foreign Minister Vladimir Jovanovic with a close associate of Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

A statement carried by the state Tanjug news agency said Milan Milutinovic, the current ambassador to Greece, will take Jovanovic's place. Jovanovic was nominated to be Yugoslavia's permanent representative to the United Nations, the agency said.

The change comes after months of debate over Jovanovic's hard-line stand in peace talks on the wars in Bosnia and Croatia.

Political leaders in Montenegro, which with Serbia forms present-day Yugoslavia, criticized Jovanovic for Yugoslavia's political isolation and for not nurturing closer ties with the United States.

Yugoslavia has been under international sanctions since 1992 for its role in fomenting the Croatian and Bosnian wars. Milosevic has withdrawn public support for the rebels in a bid to have the sanctions lifted.

Jovanovic also sacked many career diplomats and replaced them with officials from Serbia's powerful political police.