General Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb commander, last night refused to bow to UN demands that he withdraw heavy weapons from around Sarajevo and lift the siege of the city, almost certainly ensuring that Nato will resume air raids against rebel positions today.
A stormy meeting between Gen Bernard Janvier, UN commander in the former Yugoslavia, and Gen Mladic "came to nought", according to UN sources, despite several hours of talks.
Earlier yesterday, hopes of progress towards a settlement in the three- year Balkan war rose after the US announced that Bosnia, Croatia and the rump Yugoslavia would start talks in Geneva late next week.
Reporting the first real breakthrough in this week's shuttle diplomacy in the former Yugoslavia by the US special envoy on Bosnia, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, the State Department said the foreign ministers of the three countries would meet in Geneva "to continue the quest for peace in the Balkans".
There were no further details, but officials welcomed the development as a potentially critical step in the peace process. The Bosnian Serbs will be represented not by Radovan Karadzic, leader of the self-styled Bosnian Serb republic, but by President Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia.
The talks will have as their starting point the US-sponsored peace plan that calls for the effective division of Bosnia between the Bosnian-Croat federation, which would get 51 per cent of the land, and the Bosnian Serbs, who would get 49 per cent.
Howell's attack, page 2
Haggling for land, page 8