President Clinton, Exchange With Reporters on Bosnia Prior to a Meeting With the Progressive Caucus, August 2, 1993


Bosnia

Q. Mr. President, could you clarify U.S. policy towards Bosnia? Is the U.S. prepared to unilaterally use military force to break the siege of Sarajevo and get humanitarian supplies in? Or will it work only in conjunction with the NATO allies?

The President. Well, let me say, I think the stories this morning perhaps exaggerate our position a bit. Our position is we are working with the allies. We're going to try to work through to a common position. We believe we will be able to work through to a common position. And I don't think it serves much of a purpose to speculate what might otherwise happen. I don't believe that the allies will permit Sarajevo to either fall or to starve. I just don't believe that will happen. So I think we'll have a common position. There are some concerns; there always have been by those who have forces on the ground there, particularly those in the exposed positions. And I think we'll work it through, and I want the talks to continue. My goal has always been to work with them and to proceed together, and I think we'll be able to do that.

Q. Are you concerned about the reports that the talks may be delayed because the Bosnians expect you to come in on their side militarily?

The President. No, I don't think that will happen. Let me say this: I think peace has been delayed by the reverse perception that because the allies have not done anything to try to stabilize the position. The situation has until very recently gotten much worse since they were all in Athens talking-because the allies did nothing.
Now, I think it's getting a little better again because, in part, because we're talking about what ought to be done for humanitarian reasons and to protect our own forces there, the U.N. forces.

So I'm very hopeful. I think they've made real progress in the peace talks, and I'm hopeful that will go on. I don't think the Bosnian Government will pull back.

NOTE: The exchange began at 10:14 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.


Source: Public Papers of the Presidents, William J. Clinton -- 1993, Volume 2 (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office), p. 1297


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