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Iranians Said Still Operating in Bosnia
Must Leave Before U.S. Proceeds with Military Aid
BONN, April 25 (Reuters) — Iranian military intelligence agents are still operating in Bosnia, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday, insisting they must leave before Washington fulfils pledges to help arm and train Bosnian government forces. U.S. Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Peter Tarnoff told reporters during a trip to Bonn that the Muslim-led government in Sarajevo had made great strides towards sending home foreign forces who helped it during Bosnia's ethnic war.

Sending home foreign forces was a key element of the Dayton peace accord last November that ended the war.

"There has been substantial progress in the reduction of the Iranian presence and we have every reason to believe that the Bosnian government will comply with this obligation it undertook," Tarnoff said. "Our 'train and equip' program will not be implemented unless and until the Iranian military intelligence presence is out of the country.

"That has not yet happened but I hope it will be able to be attested to soon.'' He declined to give more details when pressed by reporters. "I am not going to characterise the presence but we have not been able to certify yet that the Bosnian government is in compliance with its commitment in Dayton to remove all foreign forces," he said.

The comments by Tarnoff, in Germany for talks by leaders of Bosnia's Muslim-Croat federation to shore up their shaky alliance, contradicted Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic's assurances that his government harboured no foreign forces. Muratovic described news reports to the contrary as "ridiculous intentions to destroy the success of the implemetation of the agreement that has been reached by now" and questioned why they surfaced just before important meetings.

"We have offered many, many times to any international commission to search each square inch of our country and to point out to us where a foreigner is present so that we can, with the help of IFOR, extradite him,'' he added, referring to the NATO-led implementation force in the Balkans.

Tarnoff said Washington had no proof to back up a published report that Iranian agents were training commando units to seek out and attack the government's enemies. "The United States has absolutely no evidence or information about that charge, at least not now, he said.

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