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Fraser en-route to Australia to brief Government on CARE's hopes for release of detained aid workers

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eARii media release

218 Northbourne Avenue GPO Box 2014 Canberra ACT 2601 Australia Rhone 02 6257 4022

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Sunday 25 April 1999

Fraser En-route To Australia To Brief Government On CARE’s Hopes For Release Of Detained Aid Workers

Situation Optimistic After Productive 4 Day Belgrade Mission

Australia’s Special Envoy, Malcolm Fraser, has left Belgrade after four very productive days in Yugoslavia. He is returning to Australia to report to the Australian Government on his efforts.

Mr Fraser feels he has seen significant progress in the last week. Most prominent was the grant­ ing of Consular Access granted last Monday and Special Access on Friday. Particularly useful was a two hour meeting with the Yugoslavian Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Before he travelled to Belgrade, Mr Fraser indicated charges had not been formally laid so as to afford him time to make representations to the Yugoslav authorities and to provide explanations about CARE’s work in Yugoslavia including the specific activities of CARE aid workers Steve Pratt and Peter Wallace.

Mr Fraser indicated he was not prepared to leave Belgrade until the best possible legal represen­ tation had been arranged should such representation become necessary. That provision has now been made.

Both Malcolm Fraser and CARE's Chief Executive, Charles Tapp, had hoped that the two de­ tained aid workers would be released into Mr Fraser’s hands and, of course, accept that family and friends may at the moment be disappointed. However, they believe the Yugoslav authorities now have a basis on which to make a decision. Mr Fraser and Mr Tapp continue to be confident

that the men will be released soon.

CARE Australia has staff in place to continue negotiations. CARE will continue to liaise with the Australian government.

The influential Yugoslav figure known as Arkan has stated publicly that the two CARE Australia humanitarian aid workers are innocent and should be released. Arkan approached Mr Fraser in Belgrade and reaffirmed this belief. Malcolm Fraser appreciated the support and recognised Arkan as a man of influence within the Yugoslav government. Mr Fraser hopes that efforts by Arkan and others will speed up the process of release. There are no further meetings planned be­

tween Arkan and Mr Fraser and no formal lines of communication have been established.

For interviews contact Charles Tapp on 0419 205 107. CARE’s Yugoslav Emergency CoordinatorBrian Doolan can be contacted on 0407 945 910. For further information contact Antony Funnell on 0419 567 777.

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