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Bildt Concerned Over Bosnia Media Restrictions

Washington, April 2 -- The man coordinating the international community's efforts to rebuild war-shattered Bosnia, Carl Bildt, has expressed concern about continuing restrictions on press freedom in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Bildt -- whose official title is U.N. High Representative -- told a Washington press conference today that freedom of the media is essential for a free and fair election campaign this summer and that he is worried especially about television broadcasting.

He said television in all parts of Bosnia is, in his words "not as open and as independent and as unbiased as it has to be for a free and fair election campaign."

Bildt is in the United States to consult with U.S. officials on fundraising and implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords provisions for civilian reconstruction in Bosnia.

He said an estimated $5 billion will be needed over the next four years to rebuild housing, power systems, industrial production and other areas devastated by four years of war.

Bildt says $1.6 billion is needed this year alone, in addition to $200 million coming from the United States.

Bildt has already met key U.S. State Department and Pentagon officials and is due to have separate talks with U.S. Vice President Al Gore and White House National Security Adviser Anthony Lake.

Bildt says he will fly to New York aftewards to meet members of the United Nations Security Council and other U.N. dignitaries.