Install

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

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Anglo-American Tensions Arise Over Ireland, Bosnia

LONDON -- Britain seemed set Monday for diplomatic clashes with its closest ally, the United States, over policy moves on the Northern Ireland and Bosnia conflicts.


Britain is concerned about a second North American visit by Belfast-based Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. Officials said Prime Minister John Major would frown on any Washington decision to grant Adams a visa after a 12-day-old ceasefire by the IRA guerrilla group in Northern Ireland. Adams, the head of the IRA's political wing, is widely expected to get permission to visit the United States next month to explain the ceasefire and push his prescription for a political settlement in Northern Ireland.


Another Anglo-American clash is shaping up over former Yugoslavia, with President Bill Clinton under pressure from Congress to lift the arms embargo against Bosnia's Moslems.


Defense Secretary Malcolm Rifkind said Monday Britain would have no choice but to pull out its contingent of more than 3,000 peacekeeping troops for their own safety if arms start to flow back into Bosnia, refuelling the civil war there.


British officials say the question of an Adams' visa is up to the Clinton administration. But they made plain that Major, seeking to reassure Northern Ireland's Protestant majority that they have nothing to fear from the ceasefire, would view the granting of a visa as a serious setback to the peace process.


Issuing a visa to Adams, who pulled off a propaganda coup with a 48-hour visit to New York in February that also angered Major, could distress Northern Ireland's pro-British Protestants and undermine their fragile confidence, the official said.


Major has only just about managed to keep the province's main political party, the Ulster Unionists, on his side by refusing so far to accept that the Irish Republican Army has permanently ended its violent struggle for a united Ireland and by stressing he has done no secret deals.


The Ulster Unionists' nine members of parliament provide vital cushion to Major's slim majority in the House of Commons. Conceivably, if Major lost their support, his government could fall.