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Contact Group Briefed on Settling of Bosnian Refugees

Five Billion Dollars Needed to Settle Refugees

The Contact group, which links the United States, France, Britain, Germany, and Russia was joined on Bildt's "steering group" by the others in an attempt to widen the basis for finding some five billion dollars estimated to be needed in the region. The Muslim states are represented by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

Bildt's job is to coordinate the civil aspects of the Dayton peace accords, which ended Bosnia's war, but a slow start and problems in funding led to criticism that the political drive peace is lagging behind the military one. The former Swedish prime minister last week told EU ministers construction projects had to be making real progress when the Balkan winter snows thaw in the next few weeks for people to see they had a real stake in peace lasting.

The European Union has so far pledged some two billion ECUs (European Currency Units) for reconstruction between 1996-1999.

Bildt was also due to brief the steering committee on efforts to hold elections in Bosnia, the resettlement of refugees and the work of the international police task force monitoring policing in the country. NATO's 60,000-strong peace Implementation Force (IFOR) in the country, responsible for creating a secure environment in which the civilian aspects of the peace accord can be applied, has indicated it will help the faltering civil side. But it has insisted it will not replace or substitute bodies responsible for civilian duties.

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