Bosnian Serb and government officials refused to budge in negotiations Friday despite the first united appeal by U.S., Russian and European envoys to resolve the conflict.
Bosnia’s Muslim-led government has threatened to pull out of the talks unless Bosnian Serb fighters and heavy weapons are well clear of the battered Muslim enclave of Gorazde.
And Bosnian Serbs, whose leader, Radovan Karadzic, met with the envoys in Pale, reiterated their stance that a final territorial settlement hinges on lifting the sanctions against the remaining territory of Yugoslavia.
U.S. envoy Charles Redman said a major issue of the day’s meetings was the duration of a future cease-fire between government troops and Bosnian Serb forces. The government wants it limited to three to four months, while the Serbs are seeking a permanent truce.
The government fears a permanent cease-fire would freeze current front lines. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic said he “will accept only a temporary cease-fire.”
Following his talks with the negotiators, who were planning to return to Sarajevo next Thursday, Izetbegovic insisted the Serbs had not lived up to the NATO ultimatum to withdraw soldiers from a 1.9-mile radius and heavy weapons from 12 miles around Gorazde.
Bosnian Serbs have repeatedly declared they pulled out of the exclusion zones even before the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s ultimatum expired, and U.N. and NATO officials say the Serbs have sufficiently complied.
Serbs continued to hinder U.N. peacekeepers on Friday, turning back reinforcements headed for Gorazde and prohibiting military observers from taking pictures of weapons still within the exclusion zone around Sarajevo.
Meanwhile, a British soldier was killed and two others were injured Friday when they drove over an antitank mine near Gornji Vakuf in central Bosnia, Britain’s Defense Ministry said. The incident brings the British military death toll in the region to five.