President Clinton on Wednesday replaced three U.S. diplomats killed in Bosnia over the weekend, pledging to keep the search for an elusive peace in the Balkans alive while praising the fallen envoys as "extraordinary Americans."
Just four days after the three died in a freak highway accident in Bosnia, Clinton announced he was sending four successors to Europe Sunday as part of a delegation headed by Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke.Among them was Roberts B. Owen, a Washington lawyer who helped form a Muslim-Croat federation in Sarajavo for the Clinton administration last March.
He will become the secretary of state's senior adviser on the former Yugoslavia, replacing special envoy Robert Frasure. Owen is a former legal adviser to the State Department.
"The group will continue the diplomatic effort begun two weeks ago to seize the opportunity for a negotiated settlement in the Balkans," White House spokesman Mike McCurry said.
Owen was the head of the State Department's legal office in the Carter administration and, now an attorney in private practice, he has been assisting Secretary of State Warren Christopher in arbitrating various disputes among Bosnian fanctions.factions.
The new team was announced moments after Clinton told a somber memorial service that the three fallen diplomats were "extraordinary Americans who made reason their weapon, freedom their cause and peace their goal." He was meeting with the new replacements after vowing to keep the peace mission alive.
Interrupting a Wyoming vacation, Clinton flew back to the nation's capital to participate in a solemn memorial service at a military chapel in nearby Fort Myer, Va.Va., for Robert Frasure, Joseph Kruzel and Air Force Col. Samuel Nelson Drew.
Meanwhile in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the first group of peacekeepers pulled out of the U.N. "safe area" of Gorazde, but the withdrawal hit a snag when the town's defenders demanded money for their departure, U.N. officials said Thursday.
An international aid organization criticized the withdrawal as leaving the enclave's residents more vulnerable than ever, although the United Nations maintains it can be protected with NATO air power alone. Gorazde is the last government-held enclave in eastern Bosnia, after the fall of Srebrenica and Zepa to Bosnian Serbs.