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Security Council Renews Bosnia Mission - 2002-07-04

The U.N. Security Council Wednesday extended a U.N. police mission in Bosnia for two more weeks, until July 15, while negotiations continue on U.S. reservations about the new International Criminal Court. The United States refuses to approve the full six months of the mandate until the Council agrees to exempt U.S. peacekeepers from the court's jurisdiction.

The Security Council gave the Bosnian mission an extended lease on life just hours before its mandate was due to run out. But another day of reckoning approaches in two weeks, when the Security Council will have to decide on a U.S. proposal to exempt American peacekeepers from prosecution by the new court.

The United States wants its nationals attached to U.N. missions to have immunity for one year, turning it into a permanent exemption by having it renewed every year thereafter.

Almost all Council members are strongly opposed to the idea, believing it would undermine the authority of the new court.

But diplomats are looking for some way to deal with U.S. demands. No one likes the idea of the world's only superpower staying out of U.N. peace missions. And Washington, too, insists it wants to continue playing a major role.

U.S. ambassador John Negroponte said he believes his partners in the Security Council want to talk more about the U.S. proposals, with the hope perhaps that they can find some common ground.

"So I think no one has really slammed the door shut on our proposals," said Mr. Negroponte. "And it was on that basis that we came to the conclusion that we should allow the opportunity for these discussions to continue next week."

The United States has made clear that it is prepared to use its veto power to kill off the Bosnia operation before its time unless its demands are met.

The European Union, which assumes responsibility for the police training program in Bosnia later this year, has signaled it might accelerate plans for the takeover. The Europeans say they want to work through the impasse with the United States, but also insist that they will not concede on the principle of the criminal court. They feel the new judicial forum should not be compromised by interference from a political body, namely the Security Council.

The United States says it fears its role as the dominant global power would leave it open to politically motivated prosecutions by the new court.