BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- Vice President George Bush met Saturday with Yugoslavia's leaders and expressed continued American support to keep the non-aligned communist nation 'completely independent.'
Bush, visiting a nation that has repeatedly asserted its independence from Moscow, said Washington 'supports Yugoslavia's territorial integrity, independence, national unity and sovereignty.
'A completely independent, nonaligned Yugoslavia represents an important factor for both European security and world peace,' Bush told reporters.
Bush arrived Friday for visit that U.S. and Yugoslav officials say is meant to underline continued American support for Yugoslav independence and efforts toward economic recovery.
After a visit to the former home of the late President Josip Broz Tito, Bush held separate meetings with President Mika Spiljak and Prime Minister Milka Paninc. Both accepted invitations to visit the United States but no dates were disclosed.
Bush said he told Yugoslavia's leaders of America's 'strong support for determined efforts to place the Yugoslav economy on a firm basis.'
Officials said the talks with Siljac covered several issues including the Sept. 1 Soviet downing of a South Korean airliner and tension between the superpowers.
Yugoslav officials said Bush told Mrs. Planinc that Washington supports her 'economic stabilization program' of austerity measures designed to solve a crisis highlighted by a $20 billion foreign debt.
The United States played a key role in securing for Yugoslavia $600 million in loans from 15 Western governments and more than 600 commercial banks. The package also provides for the rollover of $1.2 billion in payments due this year.
Bush, the highest Reagan administration official to visit Yugoslavia, leaves Sunday for neighboring Romania, a member of the Warsaw Pact that often disagrees with Moscow on foreign policy issues.
His 10-day, 7-nation tour also will take him to Hungary, another Warsaw Pact country, and Austria before his return to Washington Wednesday.
The vice president visited Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia before arriving in Yugoslavia.