The Briefing Room
8:24 P.M. EST
MS. MYERS: Good evening. President Clinton spoke with Secretary General Woerner from the residence about an hour ago, and the President has issued the following statement.
I have just been informed by NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner that NATO and the United Nations commanders have concluded that all known heavy weapons of the parties have been withdrawn from the exclusion zone around Sarajevo, or under the control of the United Nations, or soon should be. Therefore, they have concluded that no air strikes in Bosnia by NATO air forces are required at this time.
This week's events clearly have given the residents of Sarajevo a respite from the shelling and a measure of hope. I want to congratulate NATO and each of our NATO allies for the demonstration of resolve that produced these results. I want to commend the high level of cooperation that has been demonstrated between U.N. and NATO.
As I told President Yeltsin in a call earlier today, I want to congratulate the government of Russia for its contributions to this effort.
Finally, all Americans join in praising the courage and skill of our service personnel and those of our NATO allies. They have been the muscle in NATO's ultimatum.
Despite the significant events of the day, we must remain vigilant. All parties should be aware that the ultimatum stands. The deadline has not been extended. Any heavy weapons in the exclusion zone not under U.N. control are and will remain subject to air strikes. NATO's decision applies to any heavy weapons attacks on Sarajevo from within or beyond the zone.
NATO and the United Nations will continue to monitor compliance extremely carefully. The NATO decision and its results provide new potential for progress toward an end to the tragic conflict in Bosnia. In the coming days, American diplomats will be working with the parties to the conflict and our allies and partners to transform this potential into reality.
There will be a background briefing in a few minutes, but I'll take a couple of questions in the meantime.
Q: How many heavy Serbian gun positions are not yet under U.N. control, and when do you expect they will be under U.N. control?
MS. MYERS: Well, the vast majority of heavy weapons have either been removed from the zone or placed under U.N. control. Only a handful of areas remain outside of the U.N. control, and we
expect very soon that most of those will be -- or all of those will be within U.N. control. That's something that we'll have to monitor continually; it's something that we're getting reports on from the ground.
Q: The Serbs have not complied with the U.N. ultimatum, have they?
MS. MYERS: Well, as the President's statement points out, all of the heavy weapons have either been removed, put under U.N. control, or will soon be under U.N. control. So at this time we don't see any need for air strikes.
Q: When you say "soon be" that means they have not complied, have they?
MS. MYERS: We haven't been able to confirm compliance at this point. That's something, again, that we're going to continue to monitor as events proceed.
Q: When you say soon, is it a question of hours or days, when you say they will be very soon under the U.N.'s control?
MS. MYERS: Soon. I'm not going to put a time line on it. But again, it's a very small, just a handful of weapons that are not yet under control and we do expect those to be under control soon. ...
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