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EU neemt defensietaken van NAVO over in Bosnië (en)

NATO will only have a "residual role" in Bosnia once the EU takes over peace-keeping operations there, it was affirmed yesterday, following a dispute over who will run the show.

After what were reportedly tense negotiations on just how much say NATO would have over the EU-led operation, it emerged that NATO will only keep `a couple of hundred' people, mostly civilians in the former Yugoslav republic.

The US has been keen to retain some control of the operation, something which has not gone down well in Brussels.

The mission is likely to be the EU's most taxing militarily and logistically, but will also provide essential know-how for future operations.

Speaking before the press in Brussels on Wednesday the NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, said that there would be a chain of command which is "good and transparent" according to El Mundo.

Mr de Hoop Scheffer was speaking after a meeting with the former secretary general and now head of EU foreign policy, Javier Solana.

"The chain of command should be very clear", remarked Mr Solana.

He added that after the EU's-takeover, which is expected towards the end of this year, NATO's force would be "some hundreds of people, many of them civilians, more looking into questions of intelligence and maintaining vigilance over possible contacts with other terrorist organisations".

The group is also likely to pursue suspected war criminals along side the EU force.

Although competences, roles and numbers have not yet been finalised, it is expected that the UK will provide some 7,000 troops that will be under EU control.

The mission is expected to have a mandate for an initial period of three years.

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