SPLIT, Croatia (AP) — NATO’s commander in Europe stressed Sunday that his force’s mission in Bosnia is for one year only, and dismissed talk of extending it as “speculation.” Former NATO chief John Galvin said Saturday that U.S. troops need to stay in Bosnia longer than the planned period of one year, which expires Jan 1, 1997. Galvin said that the American public should be prepared for that.
“That is all speculation,” Gen. George Joulwan told The Associated Press. “My mission is for one year, and we are more interested in what is going to happen in the next few months,” said Joulwan, who stopped in this southern Croatian town to visit the nearby German hospital, part of the NATO-led operation in former Yugoslavia. “What we have to do is to focus on the mission, on the freedom of movement, on the refugees and their return, to try to create the best conditions for the elections, and for the international tribunal to do its job,” Joulwan said. “If we do that, I think we will create the best conditions for success,” he said, adding that “our focus is on the next eight months.”
When the Bosnian peace accord was signed in December, Washington said the 19,000 U.S. troops to be deployed as part of the 60,000-strong NATO Implementation Force would pull out after 12 months. European partners said they’ll leave with the Americans.
Former NATO Chief Sees Longer Bosnia Mission
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