Mr Maric said Croatian headquarters in Mostar, south-west of Sarajevo, had given the Bosnian government until today to withdraw from six suburbs around Sarajevo. 'After the ultimatum expires we will use all available measures to liberate Croatian territories.' But it was not immediately clear that Mr Maric was acting with the backing of Mate Boban, leader of the ethnic Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Also yesterday, Cyrus Vance and Lord Owen, chairmen of the peace conference on former Yugoslavia, said they expected Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader, to place all his forces' heavy weapons around Sarajevo, Bihac, Jajce and Gorazde under the supervision of UN military observers by midday next Saturday. Mr Karadzic first made such a pledge at last month's opening session of the conference in London, but failed to act on it immediately. Marrack Goulding, the UN's senior peace-keeping official, finalised the details with Mr Karadzic during a visit last week. He flew to Geneva on Saturday to brief the two chairmen.
A spokesman for Mr Vance and Lord Owen said all three warring parties in Bosnia had been invited to Geneva for talks today on resuming aid flights, suspended since Thursday after an Italian aircraft crashed, killing eight people. There was no confirmation on whether the plane was shot down or suffered a technical fault. Despite the crash, Mr Goulding said before leaving for Geneva that the UN was not considering military escorts for aid flights.
Expanding on the theme of how overstretched the UN is, the Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros- Ghali, complained in Moscow on Saturday that the world expected too much from the body which, he said, was in crisis because of dollars 1.85bn ( pounds 900m) in unpaid dues. 'Today we have a crisis of too much credibility,' he said. 'People are persuaded that the United Nations can solve all problems.'
The first snow fell on the mountains around Sarajevo yesterday, and the city was almost without water after Serbian forces cut electricity to pumps serving the main reservoir. People have been gathering rainwater in cups and buckets, and doctors warned yesterday of the danger of cholera and hepatitis outbreaks.
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