US may boycott UN meeting over Bosnia: 'Shambles' as Russia calls on foreign ministers to discuss global

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DIPLOMATIC confusion reigned last night as Russia was expected to call an extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers at the United Nations Security Council to discuss measures on Bosnia, despite signals that the United States might not attend.

Russia, which holds the council presidency until next month, had originally called for a high- profile session on global peace- keeping issues, with Moscow setting the agenda to demonstrate to hardliners at home that it is not in the pocket of the West.

The Clinton administration, however, made clear it was not ready for such a discussion pending Congress deliberations on the US peace-keeping budget. The agenda was then confined to practical proposals on the former Yugoslavia.

However, UN sources said the US objections remained because the real problem was disunity with the other allies over Bosnia. Andrei Kozyrev, the Russian Foreign Minister, was still expected in New York on Friday to chair the meeting and other foreign ministers were expected to attend. The situation was described as 'a shambles'.

The meeting would consider measures such as sending UN monitors to check the closure of the border between Bosnia and Serbia proper; the building up of the 'safe areas' established by the UN; and the dispatching of reinforcements to Macedonia and possibly Kosovo.

The measures are considered to be interim steps while the Vance-Owen peace plan remains opposed by Bosnian Serbs after their weekend 'referendum'.

Meanwhile, Lord Owen and Thorvald Stoltenberg, the EC and UN mediators, will arrive in the Croatian town of Split today to prepare for talks with Croatian and Bosnian Muslim leaders.

Mr Kozyrev will also go to Croatia and then on to Belgrade.

Telephone consultations between the US and the European allies will continue throughout the week as President Bill Clinton prepares for an announcement on possible military action. Warren Christopher, the US Secretary of State, said the same options were on the table as when he toured Europe two weeks ago - air strikes and a lifting of the arms embargo on Bosnian Muslims. The US may choose to announce that the Bosnian Serbs face air strikes should they violate the safe areas declared by the UN.

British officials yesterday dismissed a threat by the head of the Bosnian Serb army, General Ratko Mladic, that he would 'bomb London' if the West intervened with air strikes to force the peace plan on the Bosnian Serbs. London was 'pretty used to threats,' one said.

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