Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Stresses Urgency of Bosnian Talks

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Stresses Urgency of Bosnian Talks

Article excerpt

President Bill Clinton warned the leaders of Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia on Tuesday that they were undertaking what could be "the last best chance we have for a very long time" to end Europe's deadliest conflict since World War II.

U.S.-led peace talks open today at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton. Delegations headed by Presidents Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia, Franjo Tudjman of Croatia and Alija Izetbegovic of Bosnia were arriving separately Tuesday night.

"We have come to a defining moment in Bosnia," Clinton said in the White House in a sendoff for Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke. "This is the best chance we've had for peace since the war began. It may be the last best chance we have for a very long time."

Holbrooke, author of a basic agreement on the division of Bosnian territory and postwar power-sharing, spoke cautiously about the chances for peace after four years of war.

"We have a very tough job ahead of us, we are not here to promise success but only our best efforts," he said on his arrival at Wright-Patterson.

Some of the toughest issues awaiting negotiators are map boundaries, the status of Sarajevo, practical steps that must be taken to separate hostile forces and procedures for free elections. They also will have to address "a bundle of human rights issues," including the plight of refugees and justice for war atrocities, said Anthony Lake, Clinton's national security adviser.

On the eve of the talks, there was a sense of foreboding and reservation in Congress about sending up to 25,000 American troops to Bosnia as part of a NATO force to enforce any peace settlement. House members expressed their concerns late Monday, voting 315-103 on a nonbinding resolution indicating hesitance about using U.S. soldiers.

Clinton addressed those concerns in a 10-minute broadcast emphasizing that the United States has a singular leadership role to play. Clinton also will discuss Bosnia in a meeting today with the bipartisan leadership of Congress.

"The United States, the source of NATO's military strength, must participate," Clinton said. …

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