US forces may stay in Bosnia

The US Defense Secretary, William Perry, has given the strongest indication yet that Washington is prepared to see US ground troops stay on in Bosnia, should political instability render it impossible for the Nato peace-keeping force to pull out in December, as scheduled.

Speaking during a visit to Skopje, capital of the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, Mr Perry made it clear that no decision had been taken. But the Alliance would not simply "give up on the investment" that it had made in Bosnia. If Nato chose to stay, then the US should take part in the operation, "including ground troops".

The White House yesterday insisted that President Bill Clinton plans to stick with his timetable of basing US peace-keeping troops in Bosnia for "about a year".

President Clinton last night insisted that, as of now, he intends to stick to the original timetable. The Nato force could complete its mission "in about a year", at which point withdrawal would start, he said after a meeting with the European Commission President Jacques Santer, and Prime Minister Romano Prodi of Italy, current holder of the rotating European Union presidency. Mr Perry's remarks, the White House said, were "speculative".

Nonetheless they have lifted the lid off a topic which has mostly been shunned in public by both the European allies and Washington, for fear of turning it into a controversy in the US Presidential campaign.

And, taken with the recent statements of other senior American officials, they suggest that however unwelcome the prospect is, the administration is resigned to the fact that an extended Nato presence may be unavoidable.

From the outset, the 1995 Dayton peace accords were tailored to minimise the political risk to President Clinton, ensuring that the 18,000 US troops would remain in Bosnia until well after the vote on 5 November, ensuring no flare-up of fighting during the campaign. By and large, the strategy has worked.

US casualties have been very few, an uneasy peace has been kept and Bosnia has not featured in the campaign, not least because Mr Clinton's Republican opponent, Bob Dole, supported the deployment of US forces.

But, indirectly, the argument has resurfaced, as the US has exerted strong pressure for Bosnia's first post-war elections to be held on schedule by 14 September, even though the conditions stipulated by Dayton, including a free press, an end to human rights abuses and the return of refugees to their homes, have not been met. The Bosnian Serb leaders, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, who have been indicted for war crimes, are still at large.

Despite the US argument that the elections will help to rebuild Bosnia, several of Washington's allies, as well as the Organisation for Co-operation and Security in Europe (OCSE), the body supervising progress towards elections, believe Bosnia is not ready. Washington's stance, they suspect, is driven by domestic politics.

Hence Mr Perry's gambit, designed to show that the US will not demand adherence to the Dayton timetable. Some diplomats here believe it was timed for the meeting in Florence of parties to the Bosnian conflict.

According to Mr Perry, the continued presence of US and other Nato ground troops is only one post-December option to be considered. Others include the continued threat of massive Nato airpower to preserve the peace, or the deployment of a rapid-reaction force close by.

Suggested Topics
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn