Karadzic accepts Muslim havens: Clinton acknowledges allies oppose ending arms embargo - Serbian extremists bomb mosques

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The Independent Online
The leader of Bosnia's Serbs, Radovan Karadzic, yesterday showed a compliant face to the West by vowing his forces would respect a United Nations resolution to establish 'safe areas' in besieged Muslim towns.

'We are going to comply fully and to co-ordinate with the UN personnel according to this resolution,' he said on American television. 'We do think it would be better to find a final political settlement, not safe havens, but . . . we will comply and help the realisation of this resolution.'

Mr Karadzic warned again that Bosnian Serbs would vote down the 'absolutely unacceptable' Vance- Owen peace plan in a referendum next week. But Lord Owen, the EC mediator, continued to pin his faith on President Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia to press them to accept.

President Bill Clinton yesterday publicly acknowledged key European partners were resisting his demand for an end to the arms embargo on Bosnia, but claimed none the less there was a 'lot of agreement' between the allies on what should be done to end the fighting.

Speaking after a meeting with the Danish Prime Minister, Poul Rasmussen, and Jacques Delors, the EC President, Mr Clinton said that 'some disagreement around the edges' still persisted on what he called 'specific tactical steps'. He recognised the arguments against lifting the embargo, but declared that 'for me, these arguments are outweighed by other considerations'.

Washington's current proposals, promoted without success by the Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, on his European trip this week, are for an end to the embargo, and air strikes to protect Bosnian Muslims.

Attempting to allay fears that the US could be sucked into an open- ended military involvement, he insisted air strikes would be part of a 'specific strategy with very clear tactical objectives, with a beginning, middle and end, and which our military advisers say could be achieved'.

Lord Owen forcefully repeated his call for the Americans to send troops to join Britain, France and others in the humanitarian effort on the ground. He praised what he called the 'brave decision' of President Milosevic to cut off all but humanitarian supplies to the Bosnian Serbs.

In Bosnia, Serbian extremists bombed three mosques in the northern town of Banja Luka yesterday. At least two of them were badly damaged in the pre-dawn attack, including the 400-year-old Ferhadija Mosque, said to be one of the Balkans' most beautiful.

Ron Redmond, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said there had been an increase in murder, violence and intimidation during the past month in Banja Luka as Serbs pursued their policy of 'ethnic cleansing' against Muslims and Croats. 'As world attention focuses elsewhere, these thugs come out of the woodwork,' Mr Redmond said.