EU Debates Paying for Peace

EU foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels today with Balkan peace talks in the United States apparently on the verge of a deal, will try to finalize details of a big reconstruction package for the region.

EU officials plan to report on talks with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund on efforts to convene a donor meeting to raise between $5 billion and $6 billion to pump into Bosnia and Croatia over the next three or four years.

Diplomats said that, with all eyes fixed on Dayton, Ohio, where a deal could soon end Europe's worst war in 50 years, several EU ministers may instead fly to the United States to witness the initialing of the deal on Monday.

"If there is a deal, there will be huge pressure to match it with the announcement of a date for the donors' conference," said one EU diplomat.

Washington has made most of the ongoing efforts to end four years of brutal war in ex-Yugoslavia since last summer when NATO warplanes stepped up action on Bosnia's Serbs, but the Europeans are keen to be present in the peace settlement.

"At the moment, the deal seems to be - we [the US] help end the war, you lot [the Europeans] deal with the peace," said one independent defense analyst.

The EU's special envoy to the former Yugoslavia, Carl Bildt, will brief the EU ministers on efforts to finalize the reconstruction and rehabilitation package into which EU nations are ready to pump $1.3 billion almost immediately.

The rest of the money will be provided by multilateral organizations, wealthy Muslim states, and the US, where the White House is already fighting for financing for a peace implementation force for Bosnia.

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