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Bosnia: Frowick Says 20,000 To 30,000 Peacekeepers Will Be Enough

Brussels, 13 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE's) top official in Bosnia says a pared down peace force of 20,000 to 30,000 would be sufficient to handle security needs in 1997.

U.S. Ambassador Robert Frowick made the comment today in Brussels, where he was briefing the North Atlantic Council, NATO's top policymaking body. The council has agreed that a new peace force is needed in Bosnia next year, but has taken no decision on its size or mission.

Frowick today said that in his view, a force of such size would be "ample." As he put it, "a 20,000 to 30,000 troops component would be a powerful force... particularly backed up by air and sea power."

A majority of the Alliance's 16 member nations share the same view.

Frowick said the main problem would be maintaining the will on the part of the international community to continue the commitment.

The one-year mandate of the current NATO-led peace implementation force, which at its peak numbered nearly 60,000, expires on December 20.

One of the possibilities now under consideration is a multinational force of about half the size of the one that moved into the country last year to enforce the Dayton peace agreement.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher met in Paris today with the three members of Bosnia's collective presidency to urge them to cooperate in making the country's unified government work. The meeting took place one day before an international conference in Paris is due to adopt a two-year plan to consolidate peace in Bosnia.

Bosnia's co-presidents -- Muslim Alija Izetbegovic, Serb Momcilo Krajisnik and Croat Kresimir Zubak -- earlier met with French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette. They told reporters they had agreed tomorrow's conference should give a boost to civilian reconstruction efforts.