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Bosnia Prepared To Oust Officials

Sat., Nov. 16, 1996, midnight

Bosnian Federation authorities, bowing to U.S. wishes, are recommending the ouster of two top defense officials, including one who is known for his close ties to Iran, the State Department said Friday.

The dismissals will become final if they are approved by Bosnian Federation President Kresimir Zubak, spokesman Nicholas Burns said.

Once that step is taken, the way will be cleared for release of $100 million in U.S. military equipment, which the Clinton administration has been holding up for weeks.

“We hope very much that Mr. Zubak now will take the steps that we have asked him to take for quite a few weeks now,” Burns said. “This will allow us to meet our commitment to the Federation and deliver the substantial military assistance that the Federation clearly needs to enhance its military capabilities.”

One of the two officials targeted by the administration is Deputy Defense Minister Hasan Cengic, who is believed to have overseen weapons procurements from Iran during the war.

The other is Defense Minister Vladimir Soljic. Burns said U.S. officials have doubts about his commitment to maintaining the Bosnian Federation.

The equipment is still aboard The American Condor cargo vessel in international waters near the Croatian port of Ploce, where it was supposed to unload on Oct. 24.

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