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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 11, 1995
                              ARMS EMBARGO

I am announcing today my decision to veto legislation that would unilaterally lift the arms embargo against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

I know that members of Congress share my goals of reducing the violence in Bosnia and working to end the war. But their vote to unilaterally lift the arms ambargo is the wrong step at the wrong time. The American people should understand the consequences of such action for our nation and for the people of Bosnia.

This is an important moment in Bosnia. Events in the past few weeks have opened new possibilities for negotiations. We will test these new realities and we are now engaged with our allies and others in using these opportunities to settle this terrible war by agreement. This is not the time for the United States to pull the plug on the U.N. mission.

There is no question that we must take strong action in Bosnia. In recent weeks the war has intensified. The Serbs have brutally assaulted three of the United Nations safe areas. Witnesses report widespread atrocities -- summary executions, systematic rape and renewed ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. Tens of thousands of innocent women and children have fled their homes. And now the Croatian Army offensive has created new dangers and dramatically increased the need for humanitarian aid to deal with displaced citizens in the region. But these events also create opportunities.

Along with our allies we have taken a series of strong steps to strengthen the United Nations mission to prevent further attacks on safe areas and to protect innocent civilians:

Despite these actions many in Congress are ready to close the books on the U.N. mission. But I am not -- not as long as that mission is willing and able to be a force for peace once again.

I recognize that there is no risk-free way ahead in Bosnia. But unilaterally lifting the arms embargo will have the opposite effects of what its supporters intend. It would intensify the fighting, jeopardize diplomacy and make the outcome of the war in Bosnia a American responsibility.

Instead, we must work with our allies to protect innocent civilians, to strenghten the United Nations mission, to bring NATO's military power to bear if our warnings are defied and to aggressively pursue the only path that will end the conflict -- one that leads to a negotiated peace.