President Clinton announced Sunday that he had approved the deployment of an advance party of American troops to Bosnia, and White House officials said some troops would start arriving at a staging area in Hungary today.
As expected, the president approved a plan under which 700 communications and logistics specialists are to be sent to Bosnia from bases in Germany. Most will go by rail to Hungary and then by road. They will be based in Tuzla, in the northeast of Bosnia.
A White House official said Sunday afternoon, though, that “there is no guarantee you are going to see U.S. forces in Tuzla by tomorrow morning.”
The president, who returned to Washington from Europe on Sunday afternoon, approved the plan Saturday night in a telephone conversation with his national security adviser, Anthony Lake, as he flew from Germany to Madrid, Spain. He had been briefed on the plan in Germany by U.S. Army Gen. George Joulwan, the supreme allied commander in Europe.
The advance contingent is to prepare the way for 20,000 American troops who will join with 40,000 troops from about 25 other countries, making up the full NATO peacekeeping contingent. The main body of American troops will not be sent in until after the Bosnian peace treaty is signed, which is scheduled for Dec. 14 in Paris.
Before he left Madrid on Sunday, Clinton said he had authorized Defense Secretary William Perry to deploy the troops to Bosnia “as I said I would as soon as I was convinced that the military plan is appropriate.”
“Our destiny in America is still linked to Europe,” Clinton said. “And what we’re seeing in Bosnia is an affront to the conscience of human beings everywhere, right in the heart of Europe.”
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