France Seeks Release of 2 Pilots in Bosnia

Times Staff Writer

France on Friday angrily demanded the immediate release of two pilots shot down in Bosnia-Herzegovina this summer, warning that Bosnian Serbs must respond or the peace process could be endangered.

"This situation is intolerable," French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette told a conference here on civilian implementation of last month's Dayton, Ohio, peace accords. "This is a crisis situation. It puts the peace process in danger."

He set Sunday as a deadline for the return of the French pilots.

"We are mobilizing all our efforts. A refusal to respond will produce dire consequences," he said without elaboration.

The two Mirage pilots were shot down Aug. 30 during North Atlantic Treaty Organization air raids on Bosnian Serb positions. Bosnian Serb military officials subsequently said that the airmen were captured alive and "were in a safe place."

De Charette said daily efforts to win their release, or at least a firm indication of where they are being held, have been fruitless.

France is the host of next week's scheduled ceremony in Paris to ratify the Dayton peace accords.

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