US protest at British general's opposition to Bosnia air strikes

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE UNITED States protested yesterday over statements attributed to generals with the United Nations force in former Yugoslavia which Washington said undercut the potential effectiveness of air strikes on Bosnian Serbs.

The offending remarks were attributed to General Francis Briquemont of Belgium and General Vere Hayes of Britain.

Washington complained that General Hayes was quoted in the New York Times as saying: 'What does President (Bill) Clinton think he is up to? Air power won't defeat the Serbs.'

The statement added: 'There is no doubt that the threat of US air strikes was a major factor, perhaps the deciding factor, in the Bosnian Serb decision to withdraw most of their troops from the two mountains (Igman and Bjelasnica) near Sarajevo. We do not understand why Generals Briquemont and Hayes seem intent on denigrating the possible effectiveness of air strikes.'

The protest, lodged with the UN Secretariat, said the comments were 'factually incorrect as well as inappropriate, especially as they seem to call into question the close co-operation between Nato and the UN that will be needed to make this a success'.

In Geneva, Muslim, Serbian and Croatian leaders were locked in a second day of talks on the future of Sarajevo yesterday as they came under pressure to agree a plan to place the city under UN administration.

All sides have agreed in principle that Sarajevo should become an open city in which only UN troops will maintain positions and with an UN administration.

Serious disputes remaining unresolved yesterday included the fate of Muslim enclaves in eastern Bosnia and the bitter fighting between Muslims and Croats in the land between Sarajevo and the Adriatic coast.

The Bosnian delegation appears to have accepted that Sarajevo is to have a special status. In a statement, the delegation said: 'Sarajevo is most probably not going to be part of any republic.'

Twelve people were wounded, five seriously, when the Sarajevo suburb of Dobrinja came under a surprise bombardment last night.

No 'Berlin Wall', page 7

Uneasy resonances, page 20