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Diplomatic Solution Sought

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 18, 1996 – Using NATO forces to seek out and arrest indicted Bosnian war criminals is not part of the military mission outlined in the last year's Dayton peace agreement, U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry said July 17.

Apprehending war criminals is not part of the IFOR mission unless they encounter the criminal as part of their other duties, Perry told PBS interviewer Jim Lehrer during The Newshour. "If they come across an indicted war criminal, they are authorized to arrest him and they will."

Changing the mission to seek out criminals would take an initiative by the North Atlantic Council, but such an action would be premature since diplomatic efforts have not yet been exhausted, Perry said. He noted that Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. diplomat who brokered the Dayton accord, is currently in Bosnia on a diplomatic option.

"The people who have the view that this is something that we just snap our fingers and do, do not have a correct picture of it," Perry said. "This would be a difficult and probably a bloody operation. Our military forces are prepared to take on difficult and bloody operations, but not if they're not necessary."

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