Clinton, Leaders To Discuss Bosnia
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Faced with congressional pressure to withdraw American troops, President Clinton summoned House and Senate leaders today to discuss what role the United States should play in peace-keeping efforts in Bosnia next year.
U.S. troops are to be withdrawn by next June, but the Clinton administration says the United States and other nation must stay in Bosnia to ensure that peace takes hold. Key European allies such as Britain and France say that if U.S. troops leave, they will do likewise.
White House spokesman Mike McCurry said that June 1998 ``is the end of the current mission. What international presence exists in Bosnia beyond June 1998 has not been determined.″ He said Clinton was not at the point of making any decisions.
Approximately 8,000 Americans now are stationed in the former Yugoslav republic.
Clinton invited Republicans and Democrats alike to a late afternoon meeting to talk about Bosnia. They also were expected to discuss Iraq’s threat to shoot down U.S. spy planes and its decision to turn away U.N. weapons inspection teams that included Americans.
On Bosnia, House and Senate negotiators have approved legislation to cut off funding for deployment of American troops by the end of next June. Lawmakers complained about what they called the administration’s refusal to explain its Bosnia peace-keeping policy.
However, the congressional cutoff provision contains a large loophole. Clinton simply has to notify Congress that the deployment must continue, detailing the number of troops needed, the duration of the new mission and the estimated cost.
Among the subjects that Clinton wants to discuss are what the international presence should be next year and ``what the schedule for limiting the U.S. role will be between now and June of 1998,″ McCurry said.
Further, he said they would talk about what ``the pathway is for ramping down our participation″ in the international peace-keeping force.
He said the United States would ``start making decisions about withdrawal timetables and issues like between now and the end of the year″ and that now was a good time to consult with Congress.