THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Training and Equipping the Bosnian Federation
I am pleased to announce the start of the U.S.-led train and equip program for the armed forces of the Bosnian Federation. The purpose of this program is to assist in providing Bosnia with the ability to defend itself, and thereby promote security and stability in the region. The program will also help ensure that upon IFOR's departure, a military balance exists among the former warring parties so that none of them are encouraged to resume hostilities.
Full commencement of the train-and-equip program was conditioned on the Bosnian government fully complying with two commitments: first, the Dayton provision mandating the withdrawal of foreign forces and terminating its intelligence cooperation with Iran; and, second, the passage of a new Federation Defense Law leading to the integration of Federation military forces and the creation of western-oriented defense institutions in Bosnia. On June 26, I certified that the Bosnian government had met its commitments with regard to foreign forces and relations with Iran.
I am very pleased to say that this afternoon, the Bosnian Federation Parliament adopted a new Defense Law. Bosnian President Izetbegovic and Federation President Zubak have overcome many significant issues in order for the Defense Law to become reality. Their leadership reflects a commitment to a workable Federation government, and this law is an essential building-block of a functioning Federation. When implemented, it will strengthen security for all Bosnians and contribute significantly to a lasting peace in the region.
With the passage of the law, the Bosnian government has made good on its commitments. Now we can make good on ours: the U.S.-led, international train and equip program will begin immediately. We anticipate the program will start in a matter of days in Sarajevo when the Federation signs a contact with MPRI, a U.S.-based company which will execute and manage the program within Bosnia. MPRI will conduct its first training session for senior military leaders in Bosnia within approximately three to four weeks.
The U.S. drawdown and transfer of approximately $100 million worth of military equipment to Bosnia will also now begin soon. The drawdown package includes individual equipment items, tactical communications assets, small arms and ammunition, main battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, light anti-tank weapons and utility helicopters.
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