Nato lays plans to pull UN troops out of Bosnia

Nato began detailed contingency planning yesterday for the withdrawal of United Nations peace-keeping forces from Bosnia, a decision that may herald the end of the UN Security Council arms embargo against the Muslim-led Bosnian government.

Nato ambassadors in Brussels approved a request from military authorities to prepare for the removal of UN forces from Bosnia in hostile conditions.

The measure does not mean that Britain, France and other countries with soldiers in Bosnia have taken a decision to pull out the 23,000 UN troops. But Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, told the Commons: ''As with all military operations, planning is in hand to cover a variety of eventualities, including withdrawal.''

Nato officials said at least 20,000 troops would be needed to evacuate the UN forces, and the operation could take several months. It was important to establish now which countries were ready to provide troops for such an operation, and to plan their specific duties, they said.

The Clinton administration, locked in disputes with Britain, France and Russia over strategy in Bosnia, has made clear that the United States will take a leading role in evacuating UN troops if necessary.

Britain and France say that UN peace-keepers will have to leave if the arms embargo is lifted because they could no longer perform humanitarian tasks and would become potential targets for Bosnian Serb forces.

France's Foreign Minister, Alain Juppe, confirmed that his government had asked Nato and the UN to plan in detail for a UN withdrawal. In an implicit rebuke to the US, he said: ''I say today that the obstinacy of some and the demagogy of others risks setting the Balkans ablaze tomorrow. I am still ready to do everything I can to prevent that. But it is my duty to say that it is, alas, no longer unlikely.''

It is still not certain that the arms embargo will be lifted and, if so, when. The new Republican-dominated US Congress does not meet until next month, and it is already clear that the Republican Party is far from united on the issue. In addition, the Clinton administration has to take account of the fact that ending the embargo would cause even more serious rifts inside the Atlantic alliance and with Russia than have appeared in the last two weeks.

UN officials said that 400 out of 1,200 Bangladeshi troops were being withdrawn from the Bihac ''safe area'' of northern Bosnia because of resupply problems caused by the Serbian grip on the enclave.

The Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, said UN troops could leave Bosnia without hindrance ''if they take their weapons with them and don't leave them in the hands of the Muslims''. He added a Western-Russian offer to the Bosnian Serbs of confederation with Serbia was unacceptable. He insisted on a Bosnian Serb state.

Further reports, page 12

Leading article, page 17

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Application Support Engineer with SQL skills

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Opilio Recruitment: Product Owner

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We are currently recruit...

Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, HTML...

Recruitment Genius: Business Support Administrator - Part Time

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the South West'...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas