Clinton rallies troops

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The Independent Online
PRESIDENT Bill Clinton yesterday told US troops with the Nato force in Bosnia that they were the finest fighting force in the world - but that now their mission was to bring peace.

Addressing hundreds of cheering soldiers at the Taszar air base in Hungary, Mr Clinton said their role in Bosnia "can and will make a difference between a war that starts up again and a peace that takes hold".

Arriving later in the Bosnian town of Tuzla, Mr Clinton praised US troops there as "heroes for peace". Security was tight, with tanks on the streets outside the air base, and helicopters circling overhead.

On his stopover in Hungary, Mr Clinton said: "I know you have been trained to fight wars and to win them. You are the best in the world at that. This mission is different. We have asked you not to fight a war but to give a people exhausted by war the strength to make and stay at peace."

Mr Clinton's visit to Taszar - a logistics base which is serving as a staging post for most of the 20,000 US troops to be deployed in the Bosnia mission - came as part of a whirlwind tour of the region. In addition to boosting troop morale, his mission was designed to win over a sceptical US public. Earlier, at the Aviano base in Italy, he said US involvement in the Nato mission was in keeping with US military traditions - "protecting our nation's interest by keeping a fire out that has threatened the heart of Europe's stability".

He also expressed confidence that the peace process in Bosnia was "moving ahead step by step - steadily, surely and safely."