Dispute Over Muslim Enclave Delays Talks on Bosnia Truce

From Reuters

Bosnia cease-fire talks were postponed Saturday for at least another day after the government refused to accept U.N. assurances that Serbian forces had left the Muslim enclave of Gorazde.

U.N. special envoy Yasushi Akashi had called the talks for Saturday afternoon, after they had been delayed for two days by the dispute, but he had to postpone them yet again when the Muslim-led government insisted on confirming the pullout for itself.

Akashi's spokesman, Michael Williams, said Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic agreed to attend truce talks today if his army commanders back up the U.N. report.

A Bosnian government liaison officer in Sarajevo said earlier that the Serbs had not completed their withdrawal from Gorazde, which has been under Serbian siege for more than two years.

This contradicted a report from U.N. officials in the town that no more armed Serbs were left, prompting Akashi to call the talks on a four-month Bosnia-wide truce.

"Serb forces have not withdrawn from the three-kilometer (approximately two-mile) exclusion zone around Gorazde," said Malik Skaljic, a liaison officer in Sarajevo between the Bosnian government and the United Nations.

The United Nations imposed an exclusion zone around Gorazde to halt a Serbian onslaught on the town last month, but the Serbs left behind 150 soldiers who they said were acting as policemen to look after Serbian refugees in the area.

Serbs and Muslims did attend parallel political talks Saturday focusing on how to divide the country between a Croatian-Muslim federation and the Serbs, who control 70% of its territory. But those talks appeared to be struggling.

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