UN gives green light to more Bosnia troops

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The Independent Online
THE United Nations Security Council gave the green light yesterday for an extra 6,500 peace-keepers for Bosnia. The new troops will join more than 30,000 already there.

The move came after a sudden outburst from the US ambassador, Madeleine Albright, over the behaviour of the UN mediator in Bosnia. To the surprise of other members of the Council Ms Albright rebuked Yasushi Akashi during a closed meeting of the council. She complained he was too critical of the US position on Bosnia.

'Civil servants should remember where their salaries are paid,' she said of Mr Akashi, who has irritated Washington on several fronts. The normally composed Ms Albright said UN officials 'are paid by member states and these people should not be in a position of even thinking of criticising member states'.

Mr Akashi incurred Nato's, and particularly Washington's, displeasure when he blocked air strikes on Serbian forces besieging Gorazde last weekend, but the last straw for the US was his report to the UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, about America's reluctance to send troops before a peace agreement is reached. The Clinton administration still has to persuade Congress to find an extra dollars 120m ( pounds 83m) to pay for its share of the new, enlarged force.

In his report Mr Akashi said: 'After Somalia, the US position is somewhat reticent, somewhat afraid, timid and tentative. I understand that President Clinton only wants to send US troops to Bosnia after a peace settlement, but we need more troops now, including US troops, to police a peace that is coming bit by bit and to avoid situations like Gorazde.'

Ms Albright called the report 'totally counter-productive'. She said no UN official should criticise 'any government and therefore the leader of that government' and Mr Akashi's statement 'calls into question' the utility of further US contributions to peace-keeping.

GENEVA - Russia's special envoy for former Yugoslavia, Vitaly Churkin, yesterday ceded his place in a new East-West group to push for a solution of the Bosnian problem, Reuter reports. Mr Churkin, a deputy foreign minister, said a senior diplomat with experience of Yugoslavia, Alexei Nikiforov, would represent Moscow in the group, which heads for Sarajevo tomorrow.