FILE ID:95062205.POL




(Bosnia) (500)

NEWS BRIEFING -- Spokesman Nicholas Burns discussed the following



The administration is discussing with Congress ways to help fund the

Rapid Reaction Force being formed by three European allies in an

effort to strengthen the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in

Bosnia, the spokesman told questioners.

One possible solution would be the creation of "a voluntary fund"

which would combine a U.S. cash contribution with American equipment

for the Rapid Reaction Force, Burns said. "But we have not yet

achieved a final outcome of the funding discussions," he added.

Because of congressional pressure, the U.S. told the U.N. Security

Council that it would not pay its normal 30.4 percent assessment if

the force were financed through normal U.N. peacekeeping assessments.

One senior U.S. official told reporters that a "reasonable" U.S.

contribution to the voluntary fund would be in the $100 million range.

The U.S. has already pledged to provide military equipment,

communications gear, airlift if necessary, and intelligence

capabilities to the Rapid Reaction Force.

The "primary focus" for the United States is to keep UNPROFOR in

Bosnia, to strengthen it, "and to try to get UNPROFOR into a position

where it can perform the tasks it currently is unable to perform,"

Burns said. UNPROFOR's mandate includes the protection of Sarajevo and

other enclaves designated by the U.N. as "safe areas," the delivery of

humanitarian assistance to those in need in Bosnia, and monitoring the

Bosnian conflict. UNPROFOR is authorized to use force, if necessary,

in carrying out its mission in Bosnia. This would also apply to the

Rapid Reaction Force, he said.

When Britain, France and the Netherlands proposed the creation of a

Rapid Reaction Force, the United States quickly supported the concept.

"We want this force to be helping UNPROFOR to fulfill

its mandate, and we are asserting this view -- that steps be taken to

make it effective -- with our allies," the spokesman declared.

"The more effective that UNPROFOR and the Rapid Reaction Force can be,

the broader support for it we'll see in the United States, among both

Congress and the executive branch," Burns said.

"It's a period of critical transition and of considerable flux," he

said of the current situation in Bosnia. "UNPROFOR right now is not

constituted to meet its mandate and responsibilities. It is our hope

that UNPROFOR will be given the tools to strengthen itself and carry

out its mandate."

The spokesman rejected the alternative of a withdrawal of UNPROFOR,

warning that "it would lead to a widening of the war, to more

bloodshed, and it would probably cripple, at least in the short term,

the political-level talks."

Burns also denied suggestions of a rift between the U.S. and its

European partners. "We are having very constructive, friendly,

amicable, productive, non-controversial discussions with our allies,"

he said.