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Warren Christopher Defends U.S. Plans to Arm Bosnia
Secretary of State Holds Hope Europe
Will Someday See it the American Way

Warren Christopher (March 17) Secretary of State Warren Christopher defended U.S. efforts to rally support for arming and training Bosnia's federal army and said he still hoped European allies would eventually cooperate. Christopher and NATO Secretary General Javier Solana acknowledged after meeting Saturday that difficult problems with Serbs fleeing Sarajevo as the Bosnian capital reunifies under the U.S.-brokered peace accord negotiated at Dayton, Ohio.

But neither joined the United Nations in directly faulting the Muslim-led government for not preserving law and order in the Sarajevo suburbs, an indifference many see as reneging on commitments to a multi-ethnic society under the Dayton pact. After a U.S.-initiated conference in Ankara on Friday failed to raise much for the arm-and-train program, Christopher held his fire against allies who have opposed U.S. insistence on equalising the military strength of Bosnia's rival factions.

A Deterrent Capability for Both Sides
Following talks with Solana, Christopher insisted both entities in Bosnia—the Croat-Muslim federation and the republic of Srpska—should have a "deterrent capability" after the 60,000-member NATO-led IFOR peace implementation force leaves the country at the end of the year. "The United States takes the position that it's important to create a situation of equilibrium after IFOR departs, that no one of the entities there... should be so weak as to lack a deterrent capability," he said.

The Dayton accords called for arms control efforts to reduce the huge Bosnian Serb advantage in weapons over rival Muslims and Croats. But Washington insists that is not enough.

"We do not think it's likely the arms control provisions alone will create the kind of equilibrium that is necessary" and hence additional training and equipment must be provided to the Bosnian government, Christopher said.

Reconstruction Aid Goals Fall Short
At the Ankara conference, the United States formally pledged $100 million, mostly in surplus equipment, to the arm-and-train program. But little else was promised. "We hope that other countries, after they've examined the matter more carefully, will follow the United States in doing so," Christopher said. His spokesman, Nicholas Burns, went further, conceding the Americans were disappointed by the Ankara meeting. The arms control talks, which are to conclude in June, aim to reduce the dominance in heavy weaponry that Serbs enjoyed during the 43-month Bosnian war. Washington says that, in any case, Muslims and Croats need more and better equipment.

European countries say the U.S. plan runs counter to efforts to cut regional arms levels. They sent only low-level representatives to Ankara. Washington has told Sarajevo the program will not start until foreign fighters, mostly Iranians, who helped Muslims during the war, leave the country. It has also insisted Muslims and Croats integrate their armed forces and that the Bosnian army reduce its troop size. Although military aspects of the Bosnia peace deal are going well, Christopher and Solana acknowledged there are serious problems with civilian aspects of the agreement. On Friday, the U.N. criticised Bosnia's Muslim-led government for failing to curb looting and intimidation of Serbs in a suburb returned to Muslim-Croat control this week.

Christopher said the peaceful reunification of Sarajevo is a difficult problem because it is "quite at variance with the situation over the last four years but it's clearly the right long term solution." He said during talks with Balkan leaders planned for Geneva on Monday, he would "remind all parties about the importance of trying to achieve a multi-ethnic country... It is the stated goal of all who were involved" in Dayton.

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