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Bosnia: New Commander for NATO-Led Forces Takes Over


Sarajevo, July 31 (RFE/RL) -- A new commanding officer took charge of the NATO-led implementation force in Bosnia (IFOR) today.

U.S. Admiral Joseph Lopez took command of the international peace force from departing U.S. Admiral Leighton Smith in a handover ceremony today in Naples, italy.

Lopez told reporters after taking command that he was comfortable with the terms of the NATO mandate. He restated NATO's position that IFOR will not track down wanted war criminals, but will detain them if they encounter them.

Lopez, 56, was previously deputy operations chief at the U.S. Navy headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, John Kornblum, U.S. special envoy on the former Yugoslavia, met in Sarajevo today with Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic before travelling on to the Bosnian Serb stronghold of Pale to meet Bosnian Serb leaders.

Kornblum is due to return to Sarajevo later today to speak with government officials about the divided city of Mostar. Tensions in Mostar, split between Muslims and Croats, have been heightened by a Croat boycott of a unified city council elected last month. Muslims won a majority of the seats.
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