Rose cool on lifting Bosnia arms embargo

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE United Nations commander in Bosnia said yesterday that the end of the war was in sight, but warned that a US House of Representatives vote to lift the arms embargo on the Bosnian Muslims could derail peace efforts. Lieutenant-General Sir Michael Rose was speaking in Sarajevo as a one-month truce came into effect between the Muslim-Croat alliance and the Bosnian Serbs.

'I think we're seeing the beginning of the end of the war here. The imperatives for peace are working on both sides. I think there is a will for peace among the population,' General Rose said.

Resisting pressure from the White House, the House of Representatives decided on Thursday by 244 votes to 178 to order President Bill Clinton to halt US participation in the UN arms embargo. Though once critical of the embargo, Mr Clinton now says that it should stay in place in order to back up international mediation efforts.

The House's order cannot become law unless it is approved by the Senate and signed by Mr Clinton. The President can veto the order.

General Rose said the Muslim-led government was deluding itself if it thought an end to the arms embargo would transform the course of the war. 'Their view that 'give us the tools and we'll finish the job' is fairly widespread. But my own view is that it takes a lot more than just being given equipment to win a war, and that there's a whole level of training and integration needed after the actual lifting of an arms embargo,' he said.

The US, its European allies and Russia are putting together a peace plan that offers the Muslims and Croats 51 per cent of Bosnia but, in addition, proposes the creation of 'grey zones' to which Muslim and Croat refugees would be enabled to return. These zones are currently under Serbian control and would be placed under UN control or under joint Bosnian government and Bosnian Serb authority.

Though the location and size of the 'grey zones' is unknown, Muslim officials say they should include towns that have suffered mass expulsions of Muslim civilians.

(Map omitted)