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US Takes Strong Role Against Serb Violence In Yugoslav Conflict

April 16, 1992

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The United States is taking a leading role to end the deadly fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina, threatening Yugoslavia with expulsion from a key Western alliance for acts ″completely outside the bounds of civilized behavior.″

In the most concerted U.S. steps yet on the long-running Yugoslav conflict, officials delivered a sharp warning to Yugoslavia’s ambassador, and Secretary of State James A. Baker III telephoned foreign ministers of European allies to discuss steps against Belgrade.

In Helsinki, Finland, the U.S. representative to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe urged that if acts of aggression in Bosnia- Herzegovina have not stopped by April 29, the Yugoslav government should be kicked out of the CSCE.

Such a move to isolate a member would be unprecedented for the group which is a 51-member alliance of governments set up to promote human rights.

Previously, U.S. officials have left the lead role in dealing with Yugoslavia to European allies. The United States followed Europe in recognizing Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina on April 7.

But U.S. officials appeared Wednesday to be taking more of a leadership role in the move to pressure Yugoslavia to stop the latest attacks which have killed several hundred people. Sporadic fighting continued in Bosnia, with minority Serb irregulars backed by the federal army.

″Our message to Serbian civilian and military authorities is that if they continue their aggression against Bosnia and to deny human rights to Serbia’s own citizens, Serbia will very quickly become an international pariah,″ said State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler.

John Kornblum, U.S. representative to the CSCE, told an emergency session in Helsinki: ″The international community should hold the Serbian and so- called Yugoslav military leadership accountable for acts of aggression and destabilization aimed against Bosnia-Herzegovina.″

A day earlier, Baker met with Bosnia’s foreign minister, Haris Silajdzic, who brought a gruesome tale of blood in the streets of Sarajevo and other Bosnia-Herzegovina cities and towns.

Tutwiler indicated officials were impressed with Silajdzic’s somber appeal.

″If you listened yesterday to the Foreign Minister of Bosnia, that was a very powerful statement of what is going on in this small area, and on this planet earth,″ she said. ″And it’s something the United States, yes, cares very much about - if nothing more, on a humanitarian level. This is just wrong.″

Tutwiler said Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger met with the Yugoslav ambassador, Dzevad Mujezinovic, to underscore ″our grave concern and our condemnation of Serbian aggression against Bosnia.″

She said Eagleburger warned that Serbian armed forces activity ″is completely outside the bounds of civilized behavior″ and called for immediate and concrete steps to reverse the behavior.

He also told the Yugoslav of U.S. contacts with EC members ″on further steps to bring the international community’s strong concerns to bear on Belgrade.″

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