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Bosnia: NATO Commander Awaits Orders To Capture War Criminals

Madrid, 9 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - NATO'S Supreme military commander, General George Joulwan, said today that he hopes for a political decision ordering NATO-led troops in Bosnia to search out and arrest suspected war criminals such as former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.

Joulwan said his soldiers now have orders to arrest war criminals only if they happen to encounter them. He appeared to express some frustration with this situation when he said that accused war criminals do belong in The Hague, where the international war crimes tribunal holds trials.

Joulwan said he hopes "the political will within the international community would gel" to the point that his political superiors would give him instructions to actively seek out and capture wanted war criminals.

Joulwan spoke at a news conference in Madrid, where NATO leaders yesterday issued a stern warning to the Bosnian Serb opponents of Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic to respect their obligations under peace accords that ended the war.

The general said there is "great concern" in NATO about the political crisis within Republika Srpska and said Bosnian Serbs should not underestimate the determination of NATO to prevent war from breaking out again.

He added that this is a "very delicate" time in Bosnia and expressed hope that "there would not be any miscalculation on anyone's part."