Serbs seek ceasefire talks for all Bosnia

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The Independent Online
THE UNITED NATIONS commander in Bosnia, Lieutenant-General Sir Michael Rose, said yesterday that Bosnian Serb forces had suggested a meeting with Muslim leaders to arrange a total ceasefire in the republic.

The 'peace conference' is scheduled for this morning at Sarajevo airport. The UN confirmed that Serbs besieging the Muslim enclave of Gorazde had halted their offensive, although shells were still landing on the town.

General Rose, who disclosed the initiative after talks with the Bosnian Serb civilian leader, Radovan Karadzic, and his military counterpart, General Ratko Mladic, did not speculate on Serbian motives. 'You have to have a ceasefire and cessation of hostilities before the political process can start working properly.'

The Bosnian President, Alija Izetbegovic, welcomed the talks but said a truce would be doomed unless heavy guns, virtually all held by the Serbs, who control 70 per cent of Bosnia, were handed over to UN peace-keepers.

Serbian and Muslim forces are observing a truce in the Sarajevo area, and Serbian and Croatian forces have signed a ceasefire covering the breakaway Serbian-controlled Krajina region of Croatia. The Muslims and Croats of Bosnia have also ended their war.

However, there is continued fighting between Serbs and Muslims in Gorazde and Bihac, in north-western Bosnia. According to the UN in Zagreb, 12 people were killed and 52 wounded in Gorazde in the 24 hours up to yesterday morning. That brought the toll in nine days of fighting to 62 killed and 301 wounded.

Some Western sources believe the redoubled Serbian assault on Gorazde reflects the desire of hardliners, including General Mladic, to finish the job of imposing full Serbian control over the remaining eastern Muslim pockets. However, there is evidence that other Bosnian Serb leaders regard the general's approach as too intransigent when a peace deal could be agreed offering the Serbs up to 50 per cent of the republic.

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