Bosnia UN mission renewed - Protest Russia

UNITED NATIONS, Jun 22, 2000 -- (Reuters) The UN Security Council authorized on Wednesday a 12-month extension of the 21,000-strong NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR) in Bosnia and a U.N. mission there mainly comprising 1,600 police.

But Moscow registered its objections by casting an abstention in the normally routine renewal of the Bosnia mission because Yugoslavia was not invited to a May meeting in Brussels of countries involved in the Balkan peace process.

The 15-member council's resolution, adopted by a 14-0 vote, also supports conclusions of the May 23-24 Brussels meeting.

Both the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH), whose mandate now runs until June 19, 2001, and SFOR were established to carry out provisions of the U.S.-mediated 1995 Dayton, Ohio, peace accords that ended nearly four years of fighting during the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Russia's UN ambassador, Sergei Lavrov, said his country refused to participate in the Peace Implementation Conference in Brussels because "further isolating and having a blockade against Yugoslavia", a signatory to Dayton, was illegal and could have "serious consequences for the whole Balkan region."

Chinese Ambassador Wang Yingfan, who voted for the resolution, also told the council that excluding Yugoslavia "does not help peace."

But Canadian envoy Andras Vamos-Goldman said that Yugoslavia could not be included in peace consultations as long as Belgrade was led by President Slobodan Milosevic, who is under indictment by a UN tribunal for crimes in Kosovo.

Milosevic, he said, "has consistently sought to actively undermine the implementation of the Dayton agreement."

SFOR includes troops from all 19 NATO members and 17 non-NATO countries while the police force is drawn from more than 40 nations.

The International Police Task Force monitors, trains and assists local police in Bosnia, where refugees have often encountered hostility when trying to return to homes in areas that were "ethnically cleansed" during the 1992-1995 conflict involving Moslems, Croats and Serbs.

The U.N. mission also assesses the functioning of the judicial system and serves as an umbrella for other U.N. agencies operating in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is headed by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special representative, American Jacques Paul Klein.

Klein last week told a news conference the UN police sent to train a local police force of 20,000 should complete its tasks by the end of the year 2002.

But he said the NATO-led troops as well as the office of the international civilian administration, known as the high representative, will have to stay in Bosnia longer to make sure war did not break out again.

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