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Croatia May Oust Peacekeepers

President Franjo Tudjman of Croatia has expressed his intention to end the U.N. peacekeeping mandate in Croatia this spring in a gamble that could expand the war in the Balkans, diplomatic sources said Wednesday.

Tudjman’s reported decision not to renew the mandate after it expires March 31 caught the United Nations and diplomats off guard and opened what U.N. spokesman Michael Williams in Zagreb called “highstakes poker.” Western diplomats expressed fears that the removal of nearly 15,000 U.N. troops could spark renewed full-scale fighting between Croatia and its rebel Serbs or possibly between Croatia and Serbian-dominated Yugoslavia.

Western diplomats said Tudjman’s move was another indication that the warring parties in Yugoslavia and its former republics are increasingly unwilling to accept outside mediation or advice.

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