Bush vetoes use of US troops in relief of Sarajevo

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WASHINGTON - President Bush made clear yesterday that he was still unwilling to send in American troops as part of a military operation to force relief supplies into the beleaguered city of Sarajevo, despite this week's despatch of six US Navy ships to the Adriatic, writes Rupert Cornwell.

'Right now, I am not prepared to use those forces,' Mr Bush said in an appearance on the CBS programme This Morning yesterday. There were no plans for their immediate deployment, he said, arguing it would be wrong for the US to 'go ramming in as the sole perpetrator of force'.

Yesterday the ships, carrying a powerful contingent of attack and transport helicopters as well as 2,200 Marines, were still in the vicinity of the Yugoslav coast. But Pentagon officials said they would be making 'liberty visits' to Italian and Greek ports, including Corfu, for the forthcoming Independence Day weekend.

Fearful of seeing US forces trapped in a messy, guerrilla war in the middle of an election campaign, Washington's basic position remains that it is the United Nations which must decide a course of action. Its role at most would be to provide naval and air support for any internationally concerted relief operation, should that become necessary. The US is also making two C-130 transport planes available to the UN.

The presence of US forces in the area was essentially designed to 'send a signal to the people over there that we're serious,' Mr Bush said, seeming to imply that the leading role should be taken by Europe. 'This is something they feel is a European problem.'

LONDON - Radovan Karadzic, leader of the Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina, last night warned the US against military intervention in the republic. He told Channel 4 television that intervention would be 'a sort of Vietnam for Washington. If we were sure that America would be impartial, I would not suggest any resistance. But nobody can guarantee that.'