NATO agrees to stay longer in Bosnia

 

Brussels - NATO agreed yesterday to draw up plans to keep its peacekeeping forces in Bosnia beyond next June, and approved a new streamlined command structure to adapt the alliance to the post-Cold War role it has forged there. Approval of the new structure, six months behind schedule, came after the settlement of a bitter dispute between Britain and Spain over Gibraltar.

Until late on Monday, Britain was insisting it would block Spain's full integration into the new command structure unless Madrid lifted its restrictions on air and naval movements in and out of the colony.

But faced with the risk of irritating all its other allies, London relented yesterday, without winning any clear concessions from Spain.

Pressure on London increased when Greece and Turkey agreed to pass over their differences about airspace in the Aegean Sea, leaving the Anglo-Spanis stand-off as the last remaining obstacle to an agreement.

Yesterday's accord wraps up 18 months of negotiations which had also been delayed by a long-running dispute between France and the US over French demands that a European officer be put in charge of NATO's southern European command in Naples.