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US suspends military aid for Bosnia Croats - media

SARAJEVO, May 14, 2000 -- (Reuters) The United States has suspended assistance for the Bosnian Croat military because of its failure to speed up integration into a joint Moslem-Croat army, local media reported on Saturday.

"The suspension will last until the U.S. has received confirmation that the Croat component has undertaken steps necessary for the integration of the federation army," the Sarajevo daily Oslobodjenje said.

Quoting sources in the defence ministry of the Moslem-Croat federation, it said aid to the Croat Defence Council (HVO) was suspended on Friday.

The U.S. embassy in Sarajevo had no comment on the report, and no defence ministry officials could be reached.

The federation and the Serb republic make up Bosnia under the Dayton peace treaty which ended the 1992-95 Bosnian conflict. Each entity has a high degree of autonomy including separate military and police.

Under the $400 million U.S. military aid program, the federation received weapons, other military equipment and training from the U.S. and Islamic countries.

The U.S. suspended the program in 1998 and 1999 over the slow pace in the unification of the Moslem-Croat military but renewed it last August.

The Oslobodjenje report said the assistance for the joint federation units and the Moslem part of the federation military would continue.

Last December Washington suspended financial assistance for the privatization process in the federation, citing frustration with delays.



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