Bosnian map is redrawn for talks

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BONN - Peace talks between Bosnia's Muslim President, Alija Izetbegovic, and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman opened yesterday with a new map being circulated giving the Muslims just over a third of Bosnian territory.

Germany's Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel, welcomed Mr Tudjman and Mr Izetbegovic - who had twice over the weekend been prevented by shelling from leaving Sarajevo - to the Petersberg, a government guesthouse on a hilltop overlooking the Rhine. The two presidents stood grim-faced on either side of Mr Kinkel as he made a short speech to the media wishing the talks success. They did not shake hands. Lord Owen and Thorvald Stoltenberg, representing the European Union and the United Nations, were also on hand.

A UN official said that Mr Kinkel, hosting the first peace talks on German soil since the Second World War, attended a brief opening session. Mr Izetbegovic and Mr Tudjman then went into private session, with no indication how long the talks would last.

The meeting, hastily arranged after Croat-Muslim talks in Vienna last week, was intended to approve a ceasefire agreement to end fighting in central Bosnia between Zagreb-backed Bosnian Croat militias and the Muslim-led Bosnian army.

Also on the agenda was the new map, which diplomats said gave Muslims 33.56 percent of Bosnian territory. The thorny problems of Muslim access to the Adriatic Sea at Neum and defining the borders of the city of Mostar, disputed between Croats and Muslims, were also to be discussed.

The diplomats in Geneva, where full-scale peace negotiations are due to resume on 18 January, said the map met the target, set by European Union ministers last month, of awarding a third of the republic's territory to Muslims. It also delineated a Sarajevo district, of nine out of the 10 current local government districts, that would be placed under UN administration as part of a peace deal.

In Bosnia, at least six people, including three children, were killed and 30 wounded when Muslim-led forces shelled the town of Vitez and in bitter fighting in surrounding villages. A UN source said the fighting was a limited offensive by the Bosnian army, which has surrounded a Croat enclave.

(Photograph omitted)