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Bosnia: Official Cautious About International Supervision Of Brcko

Sarajevo, 14 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - Ejup Ganic, vice-president of the Moslem-Croat Federation -- which makes up half of Bosnia-Herzegovina -- gave a cautious welcome today to a decision to place the disputed northern Bosnian town of Brcko under international supervision for a year.

Ganic, who is a Muslim, said: "We are one step closer to justice." He said the decision would give Bosnian Croats and Muslims the opportunity to return to the city where they formed the majority until they were driven out by Bosnian Serbs during the war.

The decision was also welcomed by Carl Bildt, the top international representative in Bosnia, who said it will make it possible to transform Brcko from an area of confrontation to an area of cooperation.

Roberts Owens, the international mediator charged with deciding the fate of Brcko, announced in Rome earlier today that an "international supervisor" with powers to set up a multi-ethnic police force would oversee the contested area until a final decision on its fate is taken in March 1998. AFP reports that Owen is expected to travel to Brcko tomorrow to discusss his decision with officials there.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Kornblum said the decision is "definitely enough to avoid war."

Meanwhile, U.S. troops stepped up patrols in northern Bosnia but there were no signs of violence over the decision.