Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Narrows Role in Bosnia U.S. Would Only Help Stranded Soldiers

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Narrows Role in Bosnia U.S. Would Only Help Stranded Soldiers

Article excerpt

Trying to allay concern about the potential use of U.S. troops in Bosnia, President Bill Clinton laid out narrow terms Saturday under which American forces would help U.N. peacekeepers regroup.

Clinton said American troops would help restructure U.N. forces only in the "remote, highly unlikely event" that peacekeepers became stranded in a particular area and needed help moving to safety.

"If a U.N. unit needs an emergency extraction, we would assist after consulting with Congress," Clinton said in his weekly radio address. "I think it is highly unlikely that we would be asked to do it."

Earlier in the week, Clinton appeared to open the door to a potentially broader American role in helping U.N. peacekeepers reconfigure and strengthen their position in Bosnia.

Administration officials insisted the president was not backtracking.

"He has used different words . . . but there is no change in policy," said an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity. "To move a group of U.N. soldiers from one place to another, and they can't do it themselves, we will help them do that. That's what some people call reconfiguration. It's what some people call extraction."

Clinton's Bosnia policy has drawn harsh criticism from Republicans in Congress, some of whom said it would be unacceptable to put American troops in harm's way to restructure the U.N. peacekeeping mission.

Rep. Ben Gilman, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, criticized the administration Saturday for sending "not a clear and steady signal, but the wavering notes of an uncertain trumpet" on Bosnia and other matters of foreign policy.

"Regrettably, the president's foreign policy has been one surprise after another, and Bosnia is but the latest instance where this administration has leaped before it looked," Gilman, of New York, said in the GOP response to Clinton's radio address.

"We in the Congress should know just where this new policy is going to lead," Gilman said. …

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