Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

France, U.S. Trade Blows On Bosnia

PARIS -- France hit back angrily at the United States on Thursday after the State Department accused Paris of strange morality and illogic over Bosnia.


The bitter tone of the exchanges was rare among Western allies, even between two countries often at odds over security issues, as French Foreign Ministry spokesman Richard Duque slammed into Washington for acting as a bystander amid Bosnian bloodshed.


Stung by the reference to morality, he said: "If we are talking on a moral level, the choice today is between merely watching the fighting or doing everything possible to stop it."


Duque was responding to blunt comments by State Department spokesman Mike McCurry, who said France's call for the United States to pressure the Moslem Bosnian government into accepting a European peace plan "requires a very strange moral calculus."


France, which has the largest contingent in the U.N. peacekeeping force in ex-Yugoslavia, has criticized Washington's hesitance to commit ground troops.


McCurry said imposing a peace settlement on the factions would require massive intervention by Western troops, which "just doesn't logically make much sense to the United States at this point."


But Duque said France never backed a forced settlement, nor massive intervention, only bringing more diplomatic pressure to accept a brokered peace.


The United States also rejected a Russian plan for an urgent U.N. Security Council meeting on Bosnia.


Vitaly Churkion, Russia's special envoy to the former Yugoslavia, Tuesday urged the U.N. to push for a settlement, but McCurry said on Wednesday "it seems at this point very doubtful that a meeting ... would have any greater success" than previous efforts.


The discord between allies came as the growing lawlessness in Bosnia prompted the United Nations to close a vital aid route on Thursday after crowds plundered food convoys.


Seven Bosnian policemen were wounded in two separate incidents over the past two days. Small arms and grenades were used in the attacks on U.N. trucks in the government-held village of Ticici in central Bosnia.