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Clinton appoints new team for Bosnia talks

Washington (Reuter) - President Bill Clinton yesterday instructed the US peace envoy Richard Holbrooke to return to the former Yugoslavia on Sunday with a new negotiating team to continue the search for peace.

Four men were named to replace three diplomats killed last Saturday when their armoured vehicle which slid off the hazardous Mount Igman road as they were travelling to peace talks in Sarajevo. Holbrooke's return with a new team would revive the peace initiative disrupted by that accident.

The new envoys were identified as Robert Owen, currently US representative on the five-nation Contact Group on Bosnia; Brigadier General Donald Kerrick, a military intelligence specialist now on the National Security Council; James Pardew, director of the Balkan Task Force at the Pentagon; and Christopher Hill, a State Department official who heads the office of South Central European Affairs.

Their names were released by the White House after a memorial service for the diplomats who died. The members of the new team were present at the service for Robert Frasure, Joseph Kruzel and Nelson Drew, and afterwards attended a meeting that Mr Clinton held with his top advisers.

"The group will continue the diplomatic effort begun two weeks ago to seize the opportunity for a negotiated settlement in the Balkans," the White House spokesman, Mike McCurry, said. "There can be no more fitting tribute to our colleagues than to persist with new vigour the efforts for which they gave their lives."

n The UN Rapid Reaction Force in Bosnia opened fire with its new heavy artillery for the first time on Tuesday night, writes Christopher Bellamy. The artillery fire hit Bosnian Serb mortar positions north-east of Sarajevo after the Serbs had fired on a UN position manned by Egyptian troops for the second time.

Six shells fired from two massive French armoured guns on Mount Igman, slammed into the target at about 10pm local time, three hours after the Serbs' second attack on the Egyptian UN position. The first attack had injured six Egyptians, two seriously. The UN did not respond because they could not establish exactly where the mortar fire had come from.