Senate backs Clinton on Bosnia embargo

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The Independent Online
WASHINGTON - The Senate yesterday rejected a demand for President Bill Clinton to lift the arms embargo on Bosnia, writes Patrick Cockburn. The proposal, attached to a dollars 263bn ( pounds 171bn) Authorisation Bill, was lost by the casting vote of the Vice President, Al Gore, after senators voted 50:50. Mr Clinton and his staff lobbied senators against the order on the grounds that it would disrupt the peace plan.

Last week the Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, asked senators not to end the US embargo as it would encourage Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Serbs to resume fighting. The House of Representatives had already ordered Mr Clinton to lift the embargo. If the Senate had done the same yesterday Mr Clinton would have been forced to veto the whole Defence Bill or unilaterally break sanctions on arms supplies. Mr Clinton will be pleased at not having to make the choice, but still does not know what to do if the Bosnian Serbs refuse to agree to withdraw under new partition proposals. Mr Clinton originally supported lifting the embargo but only with European agreement.