Air threat forces new offer by Serbs

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THE BOSNIAN Serb commander, General Ratko Mladic, agreed last night to withdraw forces from two strategic mountains overlooking Sarajevo. The agreement, in the face of a threat of Western air strikes, came after a five-hour meeting at Sarajevo airport with the UN force commander in Bosnia, General Francis Briquemont. The terms fell well short of the minimum demand of the Bosnian government, and it was not clear whether they would tempt Bosnia's Muslim president, Alija Izetbegovic, to the negotiating table.

Earlier the UN dismissed as a stunt a Serbian 'withdrawal' from the mountains, when two tanks rumbled down the hillside in front of television cameras. 'There is no evidence of a serious withdrawal. The Serbs are consolidating in the area,' a UN spokesman said.

In Brussels Nato military commanders agreed on options and command arrangements for air strikes against the Serbs. Nato ambassadors meet today to consider the US plan for air attacks.

Saving Sarajevo, page 6; Leading article, letters, page 15