September 04, 1997

Croatia gives up claim to stolen Jewish gold

ZAGREB, Croatia (Reuter) - Croatia will cede to Holocaust victims its share in the Tripartite Gold Commission, charged with returning gold stolen from Jews in World War II, state news agency Hina reported Thursday.

The Commission, set up in 1946 by Britain, France and the United States to return looted gold reserves to European central banks, still controls 5.5 tons of the 336 tons it originally held.

Croatia, which broke away from federal Yugoslavia in 1991, will attend as a fully-fledged member a conference on Nazi gold scheduled for December in London, it said.

The statement did not specify who would receive the gold, or how much it was worth.

Ten countries -- Albania, Austria, Belgium, the former Czechoslovakia, Luxembourg, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and former Yugoslavia -- have claims on the gold, which is being held by the Bank of England and the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Britain, France and the United States have agreed to freeze the gold while they review new evidence that some of it came from the wedding rings, watches and dental work of people sent to Nazi extermination camps.

Israel agreed in August to establish diplomatic links with Croatia after the Zagreb government publicly distanced itself from the World War II pro-Nazi Croatian regime, which persecuted and killed thousands of the country's Jews.