Bosnia 'may have to split'

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The Independent Online
SARAJEVO (Reuter) - President Alija Izetbegovic, in a significant about-face, said yesterday that Bosnia might have to be divided along ethnic lines if peace were to be restored in the near future. But he ruled out attending new peace talks in Geneva unless Serbian rebels stop offensives against Muslim enclaves still controlled by the government army.

Bosnia's collective presidency, led by Mr Izetbegovic, drafted a peace plan a week ago calling for preserving Bosnia as a federal state with equal rights for all communities. But Mr Izetbegovic appears to be bowing to growing pressure for a settlement.

'We should not accept a permanent division of Bosnia. But without great concessions in terms of ethnic division, there is no way to get peace in the near future,' he said. Mr Izetbegovic earlier said he would not join the talks unless new conditions were met by his foes: 'We cannot go there if offensive activities continue, especially against Sarajevo.'

Meawnhile UN sources accused Bosnian Croats of planning to send abroad up to 10,000 Muslim men detained in Mostar - an exodus that could swell to as many as 30,000 if relatives join them.

The sources said the UN refugee agency refused a Croat request to run a giant transit camp with international telephone lines which the detainees could use to apply for Western visas. 'We will have no part in ethnic cleansing,' a UN source said.