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Clinton Participates in Dedication of Srebrenica Memorial

Former President Bill Clinton appealed for tolerance among Bosnia's Muslims, Serbs and Croats as he participated in the dedication of a memorial in the town of Srebrenica to the victims of Europe's worst massacre since World War II.

Muslim prayers accompanied the procession of more than 100 bodies taken for re-burial in the new Potocari cemetery that surrounds the memorial center for those killed in the Srebrenica massacre. The remains had been retrieved from several mass graves nearby.

The slaughter in Srebrenica, where up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed in July, 1995, became a symbol for the brutality of the three-year war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Srebrenica, about 80 kilometers northeast of Sarajevo, had been declared a "safe zone" by the United Nations when it was overrun by Bosnian Serb soldiers. They began the mass executions after outgunned Dutch U.N. peacekeepers were forced to abandon the region. Women were sent away in buses before the killings began.

The massacre prompted then-President Clinton to step up efforts to end the war, which killed more than 200,000 people and displaced nearly two million others.

The Clinton administration pressed NATO to bomb Bosnian Serb artillery positions and later managed to get all the warring factions to sign the Dayton Peace Accord, which ended the conflict.

Speaking at the ceremony to officially open the cemetery and memorial, Mr. Clinton urged the international community to arrest those accused of responsibility for the massacre, a reference to Bosnian Serb wartime leaders Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic.

Mr. Clinton said it would be a mistake to withdraw American forces from the region as is being considered by the current administration of President Bush because of military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr. Clinton told the survivors that American and other peacekeepers are still needed in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

"There is still much to be done," said Mr. Clinton. "I hope we will do more to help your economy. I hope more private citizens like me who were alive at that time and know what you endured, will do what we can to help you come back."

Mr. Clinton also made it clear that it was time for the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina to begin a process of healing the wounds of history.

He said children should learn "not only to see the fist, but also an open hand" of peace and reconciliation.

"Let us resolve to overcome our fears and mistrust," he said. "Let us resolve to honor the dead by giving the children they left behind the blessings of the normal life they too should have had."

One hundred international and local officials took part in the ceremony, which was held in the Serbian-controlled part of Bosnia. Security was maintained by some 2,000 police and NATO peacekeepers.