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Sunday, 22 October, 2000, 02:46 GMT 03:46 UK
Candidates clash over Balkans role
rally
Bush says troops should be used for fighting wars
Foreign policy is at the forefront of the US presidential election campaign after George W Bush's top adviser said there would be changes on Balkans policy if a Republican got into the White House.

Condoleezza Rice, chief foreign policy adviser said, under a Bush administration, the United States would tell its Nato allies that it would not perform a peacekeeping role in the Balkans any more.

Ms Rice said that peacekeeping in Bosnia and Kosovo should be Europe's responsibility.

Mr Gore
Mr Gore warned it could undermine peace in Europe

Vice President and Democratic candidate, Al Gore, denounced the policy as "dangerous and indefensible".

"I believe it demonstrates a lack of judgement and a misunderstanding of history to think that America can simply walk away from the security challenge on the European continent," he said.

He warned it would lead to the end of Nato and undermine peace in Europe.

"I can't believe anyone who understands the importance of Nato could make such a proposal," he added.

Fighting wars

Senior Bush adviser Ari Fleischer said Mr Bush was keen for the United States to focus more on fighting wars in trouble spots rather than perform peacekeeping operations.

George W Bush has repeatedly criticised President Clinton for, what he has called "overextending" the military.

Correspondents say Mr Bush's position is sure to alarm Nato members who see peace in the Balkans as the Alliance's top post-Cold War mission.

At the moment, US forces make up just 20% of the peacekeeping troops in the Balkans.

Five years ago, the United States sent in 25,000 troops but this is now cut to 11,400.

With 17 days to go before the 7 November election, polls show Mr Bush with a modest lead over Mr Gore.

On Saturday, the vice president met black ministers in New Orleans, addressed union activists in Washington, DC at a rally linked by satellite to 17 other similar events around the country, and headed to an evening rally in Philadelphia.

Mr Bush was not on the campaign trail, but addressed supporters in Washington state by satellite from his home in Crawford, Texas.

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See also:

18 Oct 00 | Americas
Gore claims 'Goldilocks victory'
18 Oct 00 | Americas
Gore goes on the warpath
05 Sep 00 | Election news
Why Bushisms matter
28 Sep 00 | Americas
Key states to watch
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