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Again, Mediators Try to Nudge Along Bosnian Talks

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The world’s major powers launched yet another effort to jump-start Bosnian peace talks Tuesday, seizing on faint glimmers of hope from a wobbly cease-fire and a Bosnian Serb pledge to open roads into this embattled capital.

But even as mediators from the five-nation Contact Group rushed to rebel headquarters in the nearby town of Pale, U.N. officials reported a fresh barrage of attacks on the Muslim-held Bihac pocket in northwestern Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The flare-up in fighting after several relatively quiet days underscored the fragility of a four-month New Year’s cease-fire.

Tuesday’s round of diplomatic efforts came as a new U.N. commander formally took charge in Bosnia, replacing Lt. Gen. Michael Rose. Rose and his successor, Lt. Gen. Rupert Smith, were summoned to a meeting with U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in Geneva to discuss the future of the troubled U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Balkans.

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With many in Bosnia increasingly doubtful that the cease-fire will hold, representatives of the Contact Group--the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Russia--met for nearly six hours Tuesday with Serbian leaders in Pale. There were no immediate reports of success in their attempts to persuade the Serbs to accept a peace plan for divvying up Bosnian territory.

The diplomats apparently embarked on Tuesday’s mission having found encouraging signs in a Monday agreement by the Serbs and the government to open vital supply roads into Sarajevo next Wednesday.


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