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U.S. to Aid Bosnia War Tribunal

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Clinton Administration, stung by suggestions that it has withheld evidence of Bosnia war crimes, said Wednesday that it will give international prosecutors all relevant information, including sensitive intelligence reports.

South African Judge Richard Goldstone, head of the international tribunal on war crimes in the former Yugoslav federation, recently complained that the U.S. government was dragging its feet on requests for information.

In its defense, the White House responded Tuesday that some intelligence is too sensitive to share.

But State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said Wednesday that the Administration is determined to “find a way” to comply with all of Goldstone’s requests. He said “at least 25" requests for evidence are pending.

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“If the United States has intelligence information pertaining to human rights abuses, we will find a way to provide that to the tribunal,” Burns said, explaining that it will probably be necessary to disguise the origin of some reports to protect sources and methods.

Published reports have suggested that the Administration has been reluctant to give Goldstone evidence that might implicate Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic as an accessory to Bosnian Serb war crimes.

The reports have suggested that Washington is counting on Milosevic to represent the Serb side in the triangular peace talks under way at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

Burns said he knows of no evidence that would link the Bosnian president directly to war crimes.

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But he added that the Administration believes that the tribunal should have access to all relevant information and should be allowed to follow the evidence “wherever it leads.”

The Hague-based tribunal has indicted 43 people--42 of them Bosnian Serbs, including political leader Radovan Karadzic and military commander Gen. Ratko Mladic--on war crimes charges.

Burns said Goldstone has indicated that more indictments are imminent. Almost all the suspects remain free in territory controlled by the Bosnian Serbs.

In the Dayton peace talks, U.S. mediators are advocating a draft constitution that would bar Karadzic, Mladic and others under indictment from holding positions of authority in the future government.

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“We cannot foresee an agreement that would permit these two people to stay in power,” Burns said. Nevertheless, he acknowledged that it may prove difficult to persuade the Bosnian Serbs to ratify an agreement that requires them to oust their top leadership.

“The United States has several objectives as we negotiate our way through the Bosnian morass in Dayton,” Burns said. “One is to reach a peace agreement. . . . But an equally compelling and important objective is justice.”

In Dayton, Milosevic and Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic seemed to put aside almost four years of bloody ethnic war to dine together at a French restaurant.

France’s ambassador played host to the delegation leaders at a restaurant called l’Auberge.

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When a reporter outside the restaurant asked how the talks were progressing, Milosevic replied, “It goes well.” He did not elaborate.


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