The leader of Yugoslavia's biggest republic, Serbia, has put strong pressure on Serb hard-liners in breakaway Croatia to end their resistance to the planned deployment of United Nations peacekeepers on their territory.

At the same time, Yugoslav Defense Minister Veljko Kadijevic announced his resignation Wednesday night in the aftermath of the shooting down of a helicopter carrying European Community monitors by a Yugoslav jet. General Kadijevic was replaced by Army Chief of Staff Col. Gen. Blagoje Adzec.

Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic sent a toughly worded message to the hard-line leadership of the Serb-controlled Krajina enclave in Croatia, in a signal he remained committed to international involvement in finding peace in Yugoslavia.

Krajina is one of three demilitarized regions where UN forces would be deployed under a plan to end the war between Yugoslavia's Serbs and Croats.

Kadijevic quit amid international anger over Tuesday's destruction of the helicopter, which his ministry called an "unwanted and tragic event."

The Belgrade government earlier acknowledged responsibility for the attack over Croatia and suspended the federal air force's commander.

Kadijevic, an Army general who is half Croat and half Serb, did not link his departure to the helicopter attack, according to the official Tanjug news agency.

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