Bonn, 4 March 1997 (RFE/RL) - U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen says American troops will leave Bosnia for good in mid-1998 even if the war that was fought there starts again.
Cohen told reporters traveling with him on his way to Germany today that the United States will be on its way out of Bosnia in June of 1998.
Cohen is due to meet Defense Minister Volker Ruehe later today and with Chancellor Helmut Kohl tomorrow. He also is scheduled to visit Bosnia, Italy and NATO headquarters in Brussels.
Some European officials are already suggesting that a new Bosnia peace force, perhaps headed by the European Union, might be needed when the current NATO-led stabilization force (SFOR) of 31,000 troops leaves Bosnia in mid-1998.
But Cohen said the United States will not provide any ground troops for such a force because it already is spending some $6.5 billion on its peacekeeping contingent there and had other military budget and security problems to face.