Serbs face US military strikes

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The Independent Online
THE UNITED States has decided to back military action to end the war in Bosnia. After days of public agonising, President Bill Clinton has given the go-ahead to military measures against the Bosnian Serbs and sent Secretary of State Warren Christopher to Europe to try to sell it to allied leaders.

Mr Christopher warned the Serbs yesterday: 'The clock is ticking.' The steps that he will outline to European leaders, including John Major today, are believed to include air strikes against Bosnian Serb targets and a lifting of the arms embargo to allow Bosnian Muslims to defend themselves. British officials oppose lifting the embargo and will argue against it, although they may go along with air strikes as the lesser of two evils.

The decision to recommend the use of force emerged from a meeting of nearly four hours between Mr Clinton, Mr Christopher and advisers, the latest in a series of sessions aimed at finding ways to stop the slaughter in Bosnia but without risking a lengthy entanglement like Vietnam.

'At this meeting the president decided on the direction we believe the United States and the international community should now take in the situation. This direction involves a number of specific recommendations, including military steps,' Mr Christopher said.

The move came as the Bosnian peace conference got under way in Athens with Lord Owen saying 'peace is within our grasp'. The talks are aimed at averting Western military intervention by persuading the Bosnian Serbs to sign the Vance-Owen peace plan.

UN and EC mediators are trying to find a formula that would make the plan acceptable to the Bosnian Serbs and the Bosnian Muslim government.

Peace talks, page 12