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NATO: Defense Secretary To Tour Europe Next Week

Washington, 28 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen leaves next Monday on a five-day trip through Europe to discuss plans for NATO's eastward expansion and the military alliance's relations with Russia.

A senior defense department official told reporters yesterday that Cohen will discuss these issues with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Italian Defense Minister Beniamino Andreatta, and NATO Secretary General Javier Solana during visits to Germany, Italy and Brussels.

He also plans to talk with U.S. troops serving in Germany and Italy, as well as in the Tuzla area of northeastern Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The defense department official said Cohen will discuss with European officials ways to make sure that conditions will be stable enough in Bosnia by the summer of next year to enable the NATO-led peace force, SFOR, to pull out. The official said it is the objective of the U.S. to make such a success of Bosnia that there will no longer be a need for a military force with U.S. troops on the ground there.