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Seles_Beckham
Aug 5th, 2003, 02:19 PM
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina - Former President Clinton will preside at the opening of a memorial center for victims of the worst massacre in the Bosnian war, his spokeswoman and Bosnian officials said Monday.

The memorial ceremony will take place Sept. 20 at the site near Srebrenica, where Serb forces in 1995 overran a besieged Muslim enclave and executed up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys. Clinton was chose to open the center, officials said, because of his role in helping end the war.

"I'm happy to announce today that President Clinton has agreed to perform the opening ceremony," said Paddy Ashdown, Bosnia's top international administrator.

"It is fitting that the man who did so much to end the war should open the memorial that will ensure that the victims of this massacre — indeed all the victims of this terrible war — are not forgotten," Ashdown added.

Tammy Sun, a spokeswoman for Clinton, confirmed he would be opening the ceremony.

The massacre marked a turning point in the three-year, Bosnian war and prompted the international community — led by the United States — to end the conflict by ordering NATO airstrikes against Bosnian Serbs.

Soon after, the U.S. under Clinton brokered the final peace accord in Dayton, Ohio, and joined other nations in deploying peacekeepers to Bosnia.

Reisu-l-ulema Mustafa Ceric, the head of the Muslim Community in Bosnia, said Muslims requested Clinton preside at the ceremony, reflecting their gratitude "for his role in stopping the aggression in Bosnia-Herzegovina."

The construction of the $US 5 million memorial cemetery began in October. The victims are being gradually exhumed from mass graves in the area, identified through DNA analysis and reburied at the cemetery.

So far the suspected masterminds of the massacre — the former Bosnian Serb president, Radovan Karadzic, and his general, Ratko Mladic — are still at large. The two have been indicted for genocide by the U.N. war crimes tribunal.