BOSNIA-HERCEGOVINA: U.N. Pledges Support For Bangladeshis in Bihac

IPS Correspondents

ZAGREB, Nov 17 1994 (IPS) - A United Nations spokesman in Zagreb warned Thursday that any attacks on the besieged Muslim enclave of Bihac in north west Bosnia-Hercegovina or the Bangladeshi U.N. peacekeepers deployed there would lead to NATO airstrikes.

“Any attack on the safe area of Bihac would inevitably result in the use of air power,” U.N. spokesman Paul Risley told a journalists in Zagreb. Three SA-2 missiles landed in the Cazin area in the centre of the Bihac pocket Wednesday, near a U.N. post.

Senior officials from the United States, Russia, France, Britain and Germany, the five nations making up the ‘Contact Group’ trying to broker an end to the Bosnian conflict, met in London, Thursday.

The Group is in crisis following U.S. unilateral action in support of the Bosnian Muslim-led government and news that the government held, United Nations declared ‘safe area’ around the town of Bihac was in danger of falling to a Serb counterattack.

A second meeting between French foreign minister Alain Juppe and his Russian and British colleagues Andrei Kozyrev and Douglas Hurd is to be convened in Paris, Friday. The U.S. will not attend.

“Do we continue to seek a political solution,” Juppe told the French media, “or do we change our political line and move towards encouraging one party to reconquer, by force, part of its lost territory?

“This is a key question which needs to be debated and clarified now.” The British and French, whose forces dominate the U.N. contingent share U.N. fears of Serb reprisals against their peacekeepers over the winter.

The U.S. has denied reports that small squads of officers personnel from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were secretly operating in Bosnia-Hercegovina.

The London-based weekly newspaper The European has claimed that the secret teams were training Muslim-led pro-government forces in guidance of air forces and use of U.S. spy satellite intelligence.

“They are teaching the Bosnian Muslims how to fight the Bosnian Serbs,” an unnamed European defence source was quoted by the weekly, published Thursday. “We are talking about the Americans taking sides. They have in fact joined the war.”

But several European diplomats — already aghast at the unilateral decision of the U.S. to halt their participation in the U.N. sponsored naval blockade of Bosnia-Hercegovina — have long voiced such suspicions.

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