West Downplays Iran's Bid To Send Troops to Bosnia
AN Iranian offer to send 10,000 troops for United Nations peacekeeping service in Bosnia-Herzegovina has met with a chilly response in Washington and other Western capitals.
On July 14, British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd said that "there are parts of Iranian policy which I think disqualify them" from joining the UN Balkans effort. Mr. Hurd indicated that personnel from other Muslim countries would be welcome.
Iran's proposal was part of a response to the Bosnian crisis put forward earlier this week by the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
The group said Tuesday that Iran and six other members were prepared to send a total of 20,000 men to Bosnia. The UN has asked member states for 7,500 more peacekeepers to defend "safe zones" established by the Security Council.
United States State Department officials moved quickly to indicate displeasure with the prospect of Iranian Muslim militants operating in the former Yugoslavia under UN auspices. They also said that Iran may already be offering military training to Bosnian Muslims, and may be preparing terrorist strikes against Westerners in the former Yugoslavia.
In response, Iranian officials said the West's attitude encouraged the killing of Bosnian Muslims and smacked of religious prejudice. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati said Muslims worldwide are concerned about the "continued genocide of Muslims" in the former Yugoslavia.