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A GOP Move To Bring Bosnia Troops Home

Reps. Kasich, Spence want to stop funds by Sept. 30

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 21) -- Two leading House Republicans, skeptical that the U.S. can help build a lasting peace in Bosnia, want to cut off funds for the mission by Sept. 30.

Kasich

Reps. John Kasich (R-Ohio) and Floyd Spence (R-S.C.) introduced legislation on Thursday to stop the funding and bring troops home this fall, about nine months before the Clinton Administration's mid-1998 target date.

"Achieving a sustainable peace in Bosnia is unlikely under any realistic time frame," Spence told The Associated Press. "The U.S. should begin to work immediately toward a policy that permits the orderly withdrawal of U.S. ground forces."

About 8,500 U.S. troops are in Bosnia, part of a multi-national force presiding over the peace agreement. The Clinton Administration angered some lawmakers by extending the mission beyond an initial year.

Some moderate and liberal Democrats also support the Kasich-Spence legislation, which President Bill Clinton would surely veto if it ever reaches his desk.

bosnia

U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen said the call by some members of Congress for an early pullout shows how tough it will be for the U.S. to stay until the mission is scheduled to end in June 1998.

"It recognizes that there is a disagreement on the Hill among some members, but that's been known for some time," Cohen said.

At a Pentgaon picture-taking sesssion, Cohen told reporters, "I think the introduction of that legislation reflects the sentiment shared by some on Capitol Hill. I'm not sure at all it reflects the majority opinion, but nonetheless, it does reflect some sentiment. It's something I have expessed to our NATO allies, that it's going to be very difficult, but achievable to ensure that the United States stays until June of 1998 as NATO has pledged, as the president of the United States has pledged, and we will seek to carry that out."

Cohen has been firm in insisting U.S. troops will not stay in Bosnia beyond next June's withdrawal timetable, but Norway's Defense Minister, Jorgen Kosmo, meeting with Cohen at the Pentagon, left the door open for a future NATO force. "We will be there until the mission ends, or until we have decided how to go on for the future," Kosmo said.

CNN's Jamie McIntyre contributed to this report.


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