Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Carter's Results from Bosnia Leave Clinton Aides Cautious

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Carter's Results from Bosnia Leave Clinton Aides Cautious

Article excerpt

WHILE INSISTING that they welcomed any progress that former President Jimmy Carter might have made toward peace in the Balkans, some Clinton officials voiced skepticism on Tuesday about the outcome.

"I don't think Carter has pulled anything out of his hat," one senior White House official said. "What has he accomplished that hasn't been accomplished in Bosnia 10 times before and then disintegrated in a few hours or days? We've been down this path before."

For the third time in a year, Carter was on television screens saying he had scored a triumph where official U.S. foreign policy had failed. This time, he spoke of a cease-fire that he suggested could ultimately bring an end to the war in Bosnia.

But some administration officials said it was far too soon to celebrate the deal that Carter brought back from his pilgrimage to the Bosnian Serbs' mountaintop headquarters in Pale.

The spectacle was similar to those Clinton and his deputies witnessed earlier in the year from Pyongyang and Port-au-Prince, where Carter's intercessions with previously ostracized leaders left the White House to watch and wonder and, ultimately, to change course.

"For those of us who work on Bosnia, it's been a new experience," an unidentified senior administration official said. "But we've been comparing notes with those who work on Haiti and North Korea, so we're learning what to expect."

On Tuesday, as Carter was moving between Sarajevo and Pale, Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher was preparing for his year-end news conference. Anthony Lake, the national security adviser, was in Africa on a long-postponed business tour.

And as President Bill Clinton worked in the Oval Office, officials said he was relying on briefings from Samuel R. Berger, the deputy national security adviser. Berger last spoke with Carter on Monday afternoon, but received a memorandum from him Tuesday. The White House also relied on calls from Charles Thomas, the U.S. ambassador in Bosnia, who was excluded from Carter's talks in Pale.

"There are many details that we don't know yet about these negotiations," Christopher said. "They're really just unfolding as we sit here. …

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