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Christopher, Perry Nix U.S. Ground Troops

July 17, 1995

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The United States is prepared to send military equipment to its European allies to bolster U.N. peacekeeping operations in Bosnia, but has ruled out ground troop combatants, senior officials say.

``It’s very important that we and the others take stronger action now,″ National Security Adviser Anthony Lake said today. ``It’s very important that we give the U.N. a chance to strengthen itself. ...″ he said.

``We believe that the U.N. forces in Bosnia should be strengthened and should take more vigorous action and we are looking for ways in which we can help them do so,″ Lake said on ``CBS This Morning.″

Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Defense Secretary William Perry also stated the U.S. position Sunday as American, French and British military chiefs met in London on the deteriorating situation in Bosnia.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. John Shalikashvili was expected to hear one proposal from the French for a multinational force, including U.S. and German troops, to protect U.N.-designated ``safe havens″ from Bosnian Serb aggression.

``We will not inject American ground troops into the situation in Bosnia″ except as part of a NATO effort to help U.N. forces leave the country, Christopher said on NBC’s ``Meet the Press,″ reiterating administration policy. ``Now American equipment is certainly a possibility.″

Perry, appearing on ABC’s ``This Week With David Brinkley,″ said the Serb attacks on the Bosnian Muslim safe havens could be stopped with a combination of more British, French and Dutch troops, the Bosnian government army and ``vigorous use″ of NATO air strikes.

Newsweek reported in its latest edition that Shalikashvili presented U.S. officials last week with a plan to airlift 1,000 French troops into the Muslim enclave of Gorazde in the largest helicopter armada since Vietnam.

Perry ruled out American ground troops, saying it would take ``a few hundred thousand ground troops in a long war and thousands of casualties″ to make a difference in the war.

Both Perry and Christopher rejected the argument of Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and others that the United States should unilaterally lift the arms embargo on the Bosnian Muslim government.

``I think it is a big mistake to pretend there are easy and cheap solutions,″ Perry said. ``Lifting the embargo is not a solution″ because it would drive out the U.N. troops and lead to an escalation of Bosnian Serb attacks.

``We believe a unilaterial lifting of the embargo as the Congress is considering could well translate into a unilateral American responsibility for Bosnia,″ Lake said.

Dole, R-Kan., appearing on ABC, acknowledged that ``for a while it would be a little sticky″ for the Muslims if the embargo was lifted, but that they have the right to self-defense.

He said he would ``grudgingly″ support the use of U.S. troops to aid in a U.N. withdrawal, but only if they were under a NATO command, had the right of massive retaliation and were deployed to remove personnel, not equipment.

Dole was skeptical about proposals to send more equipment to strengthen a multinational force in Bosnia. ``If they’re talking about more equipment they’re talking about Americanizing the war,″ he said.

Christopher said that lifting the embargo ``Americanizes the war″ because the Muslim government would have to turn to the United States for equipment and training to counter a certain Serbian offensive.

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