Update: NATO's Walker Calls on AWOL General
Lt. Gen. Sir Michael Walker, the British commander of NATO ground troops in Bosnia, met Tuesday in the Serb stronghold of Pale with a Bosnian Serb general who snubbed NATO talks on Monday. Gen. Zdravko Tolimir, deputy commander of the Bosnian Serb army, failed to show for talks aboard a U.S. warship with Walker, the overall NATO commander for Bosnia, U.S. Adm. Leighton Smith, and government and Bosnian Croat generals.
Tolimir's refusal to attend the meeting underscored the resistance of the Bosnian Serbs to accept the U.S.-brokered peace agreement, even at the urging of Serbia itself.
Bosnian Serbs justified their boycott of Monday’s meeting, maintaining that their demands had not been met for the release of two Serb officers detained by the Bosnian government on suspicion of war crimes and extradited to the U.N. tribunal in The Hague for investigation.
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"Why is it that one or two persons can stall this process?
It is unconscionable and they should be held accountable."
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (Feb 19, 1996) The clearly frustated Leighton Smith was fuming. "I can assure you his political masters wanted him here. It is unconscionable that he is not here. It is just not very smart," said Smith.
Gen. Zdravko Tolimir, deputy commander of the Bosnian Serb army, did not show up today for talks with NATO commanders and Muslim and Croat generals, who waited for him aboard a U.S. warship in the Adriatic Sea. The no-show proved once again how difficult it is to get Bosnian Serbs to comply with a peace accord they did not want; they were represented at peace talks by President Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia.
Asked what the consequences of continued non-participation by the Serbs would be, Admiral Smith said he had the authority to recommend that sanctions on their statelet not be suspended.
Carl Bildt, the Swede heading NATO's civilian program, said the reason for the Serbs' non-attendance "might be technical, it might be political, it might be temporary, it might be permanent. We do know that we are heading for a few interesting days."
Gen. Tolimir did not arrive at Sarajevo airport by the time the talks were to have started aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington. A U.S. Navy C-2 plane flew the commander of the Muslim-led government army, Gen. Rasim Delic, Bosnian Croat Maj. Gen. Zivko Budimir, and Lt. Gen. Sir Michael Walker, commander of NATO ground troops in Bosnia, to the ship.
Serb president Slobodan Milosevic and the self-styled Bosnian Serb prime minister, Rajko Kasagic, had said in Rome that the Bosnian Serbs would go back to talks, severed after the government arrested two Bosnian Serb officers and extradited them for questioning to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands. But the two men have no way to force Bosnian Serb leaders to abide by their pledges.
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