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Bosnia: SFOR Must Concentrate On Mandate

Washington, 19 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - NATO alliance Secretary General Javier Solana says NATO must concentrate on implementing the Bosnian peace accords now and not be distracted by questions about what will happen after the scheduled departure of NATO troops next June.

At a news conference in Washington yesterday, he said the most important task for NATO's Bosnia Stabilization Force (SFOR) is on the ground in that former Yugoslav republic. He says he does not want to open debate about what will happen after the NATO troops leave because such discussions are a distraction.

Solana did say that the stabilization force as it is constituted now will not continue, but he also said the international community must not abandon Bosnia.

On the issue of NATO enlargement, Solana said the alliance expects to have ready by December a complete estimate of how much it will cost to bring the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland into the alliance by the turn of the century. The three were invited to join NATO in July.

He also reiterated that NATO's first round of expansion will not be its last, but he said there is no date set yet for issuing more invitations.