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YUGOSLAV LEADER ASKS BUSH TO AID REFORM EFFORTS

SHARE YUGOSLAV LEADER ASKS BUSH TO AID REFORM EFFORTS

Yugoslav Prime Minister Ante Markovic met Friday with President Bush, seeking U.S. support to implement economic and political reforms opposed by hardliners in the Communist Party.

Markovic is seeking American backing for his country's efforts to obtain loans from the International Monetary Fund and private banks to ease Yugoslavia's $19 billion foreign debt and help steer the country toward a market-oriented economy.The premier, who is under pressure from conservatives to quickly repair an economy wracked by a 1,200 percent inflation, hoped his talks here would give him the necessary backing to face his critics at home.

Markovic, who was named to his post in March, told reporters Thursday he wants $1 billion for Yugoslavia's banking system which is being reformed in accordance with Western standards. U.S. officials say the money is needed to prop up banks which have been backing money-losing ventures that would lose government subsidies under anticipated reforms.

Yugoslavia is asking the 152-member World Bank for $300 million to $350 million and has reached an agreement in principle with one European country for a large loan. Markovic declined to name the country.