Bosnia peace thrust in danger

Sarajevo (agencies) - There were disturbing signs last night that the Bosnian peace process could be falling apart, as the Bosnian government pulled out of talks scheduled for tomorrow in New York and the Bosnian army's 5th corps commander, General Atif Dudakovic, said that an attack by government forces on the rebel Serb stronghold of Banja Luka in northwestern Bosnia would take place soon.

At the same time the Croatian President, Franjo Tudjman, pledged that Zagreb would soon wrest back Eastern Slavonia, the last chunk of Croatian territory still held by separatist Serbs.

US and European Union mediators were to meet the foreign ministers of Bosnia, Croatia and rump Yugoslavia in New York tomorrow to work on constitutional details for a post-war Bosnia, building on "basic principles" agreed in Geneva two weeks ago. But President Alija Izetbegovic's office said that Muhamed Sacirbey, the Foreign Minister, had been ordered not to go to the meeting.

The Prime Minister, Haris Silajdzic, had said earlier that there was no room for compromise on several key constitutional issues, including secession. His remark signalled that the main stumbling block was Serb insistence that their mini-state envisaged in a Bosnia peace deal should have the right to secede and join Serbia. "If the state is not stable, viable, a source of stability not instability, there won't be any talks," Mr Silajdzic said, just before the boycott announcement.

In an interview broadcast on Bosnian television, General Dudakovic said Bosnian forces would "pursue the Chetniks [the separatist Serbs] for as long as they remain in [Bosnian] Krajina," as the territory of north-western Bosnia is known.

General Dudakovic said that the Bosnian army objective was that its 5th corps in the north and its 7th corps in the centre should link up at Banja Luka.

Meanwhile, Mr Tudjman, speaking during a visit to Vinkovci, a Croatian town close to the buffer zone separating Eastern Slavonia from Croatia, promised the swift recapture of the region's main town of Vukovar and said Croatia would soon control the entire Serb-held swath of territory. "I promise today that we will soon enter Ilok and Vukovar and will proclaim our sovereignty over the west bank of the Danube," Mr Tudjman said, referring to two of the main towns in the strip of territory backing on to the Danube river, which forms Croatia's eastern border with Serbia. A Croatian attack on the territory could bring Serbia into the war.

Bosnian government troops and Serb forces yesterday launched fresh artillery and infantry assaults. Official media on both sides accused the other of pre-dawn attacks around Brcko in northern Bosnia on a key land corridor linking Banja Luka with the mass of Serb-held territory in the east. In Banja Luka, Serb military authorities reported Muslim attacks on Gradacac, west of Brcko, and Croatian artillery attacks on Bosanski Novi .

The Bosnian Serb army also reported fierce fighting near Sanski Most, south of Banja Luka, with many people killed.

Should tomorrow's meeting be scuppered, it would be the first significant stumble in United States envoy Richard Holbrooke's peace odyssey, which began in August. The upset comes after separatist Serb forces pulled their heavier weapons back from Sarajevo after being battered by Nato air strikes, and in the wake of major Bosnian government and Croat gains on the battlefield.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbridge Wells - £32,000

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbrid...

Year 3 Teacher Plymouth

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 3 Primary Teacher...

Junior Software Developer - Newcastle, Tyne & Wear - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer / J...

Systems Administrator (SharePoint) - Central London - £36,500

£35000 - £36500 per annum: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator (SharePoint) -...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering