Bosnia: Owen replies to attack

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WASHINGTON - Stung by unease in the United States about his negotiating performance, Lord Owen yesterday replied to a scathing article in the Washington Post, which had called on him to 'resign rather than help dig the grave deeper for the victims of the Bosnian war', writes Phil Reeves.

The Post on Tuesday attacked Lord Owen for asking the Bosnians to divide Sarajevo and give the Serbs control over part of the city in an effort to secure a truce, adding he 'has put an end to whatever good he could do for the people of ex-Yugoslavia or the international community'. The article went on to say that he had unwittingly become 'the personification of the West's broad diplomatic failure and moral surrender in Bosnia', and compared him with Neville Chamberlain.

In a letter to the Post Lord Owen denied asking the Bosnians to divide the city at the Serbs' behest, and said the attack was founded on an 'untruth of a deep and unpleasant kind'. He cited a report which he and his co- negotiator, Thorvald Stoltenberg, sent to the Security Council on 6 August which said that they did not feel it justified to ask the Bosnian President, Alija Izetbegovic, to accept the Serbian proposals to divide Sarajevo.

The report states that the two negotiators had been 'driven to the belief that it may not be possible to negotiate a permanent solution in Sarajevo for some time'.