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NATO Extends Bosnia Force Indefinitely

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

BRUSSELS, Feb. 25, 1998 – NATO has extended the stabilization force mission in Bosnia indefinitely, alliance officials announced here Feb. 20.

The SFOR mission was set to end in June, but North Atlantic Council authorities decided it will continue at its current 34,000 troop strength and retain the same name.

"This decision was taken in light of encouraging progress in the implementation of the peace agreement, to which SFOR has made a major contribution," NATO authorities said. Conclusions of a recent peace implementation conference in Bonn and a NATO military assessment of the situation contributed to the decision, they said.

The stabilization force will continue its mission of deterring renewed hostilities and contributing to a secure environment for civil implementation efforts to consolidate peace. SFOR support will adapt to the political and security situation and to progress in civil implementation of the peace agreement. The goal will be to reduce the size, role and profile of the force as responsibilities are transferred to civil authorities and international organizations.

Force levels will be reviewed after the Bosnia national elections scheduled for September and at regular intervals thereafter, officials said. NATO military authorities have until the end of April to prepare a detailed operation plan for the extended mission.

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