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Perry Pushes Bosnian Croats And Muslims On Common Defense

Sarajevo, July 3 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Defense Secretary William J. Perry is meeting top Bosnian government officials today to try to win a breakthrough agreement on integrating the military commands of the Bosnian Muslims and Croats.

The U.S. is trying to end the standoff so that it can launch a 300-million-dollar campaign to train and equip the Muslim-Croat federation forces.

U.S. officials (unnamed) accompanying Perry said that the main issue in today's discussions is the extent to which Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, a Muslim, will share powers with Bosnian Croat military leaders. On another contentious issue in Bosnia, the official Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA said that the ruling Bosnian Serb party will decide on its candidate for presidential elections tomorrow. The Serb Democratic Party said it has asked Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to be its candidate, but he is barred from holding office under the Dayton peace accords because he is an indicted war criminal.

Meanwhile, a Finnish forensics team is due to begin removing the remains of around 100 Muslim men from a hillside where they were killed while fleeing the Eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica last year.