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Cohen Hedges On Withdrawal

Defense Secretary William S. Cohen eased off slightly Sunday from his earlier assertion that U.S troops would leave Bosnia by mid-1998, saying “I believe we will be out in 18 months” but stopping short of an unequivocal commitment to withdrawal.

Last Wednesday, just before the Senate voted unanimously to confirm his nomination as defense secretary, Cohen made what appeared to be an ironclad pledge that U.S. troops would be withdrawn by the end of June 1998.

“We are not going to be there. This is going to end at that point,” he told his former colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The following day, in response to requests for clarification, the Pentagon described the mid-1998 departure date as a “goal.”

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