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Bosnia: Stabilization Plan Retains Peacekeeping Force

Paris, 14 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - Bosnia's three-person presidency and major world powers approved a stabilization plan for peace for the Balkan country at a ministerial meeting in Paris today. The plan would make it more likely for an international peacekeeping force to remain in Bosnia.

The two-year plan offers international aid in return for the completion of Bosnia's joint institutions and a series of other pledges on refugees, freedom of movement and human rights. These stipulations were embodied in the Dayton accords, which were agreed to a year ago. The plan also increased the powers of international mediator Carl Bildt. Bildt said a successor force must stay in Bosnia during the entire two-year consolidation period. But German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said the consolidation process should be limited to one year.

Earlier today, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher warned Bosnia's factions that the United States would consider sanctions against them unless freedom of movement is allowed in the ethnically divided country.

The Paris conference was also attended by French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette and British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind.

In Washington, NATO's top civilian official says the United States is expected to provide up to one-third of a new NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia.

NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said today the overall force would come from 30 countries and be as large as 30,000 troops. He said his "best guess" is that there will be 6,000 to 10,000 Americans.

The troops will replace the present 60,000-member Implementation Force (IFOR). Solana met top U.S. officials, including Vice President Al Gore, to discuss the matter.

The NATO official said further discussion on U.S. deployment is taking place. He said about 500 German troops would be deployed around Sarajevo and Russian participation is also expected. It would be the first use of German troops in Bosnia.

Meanwhile, NATO-led peacekeepers in Bosnia today seized huge amounts of arms and ammunition and declared a new weapons free zone near the village of Celic, where the worst violence since the end of the war erupted on Tuesday.

Major Brett Boudreau, spokesman for the NATO-led peacekeeping force, said hundreds of Kalashnikovs and tons of ammunition were seized at the barracks of the Bosnian Army's 254th brigade in Celic. Two Bosnian armoured personnel carriers were also towed away.

NATO charges the 254th brigade with instigating the incident on Tuesday in the nearby village of Gajevi when several people were killed and a number of others wounded.

NATO forces yesterday raided a Serb police station in Koraj, east of Gajevi, and confiscated weapons there. NATO says the Serb police used the weapons to fire on Muslims in Gajevi.

Major Boudreau said all weapons would be destroyed and a 35 square km weapons-free zone would be enforced around Celic.