Britain wants three-week deadline for no-fly zone

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN is demanding that the Bosnian Serbs should be given a deadline of three weeks before a no-fly zone is imposed over Bosnia by the United Nations.

John Major returned from talks with President George Bush yesterday with tacit agreement that the US will support a pause before action is threatend. The Prime Minister's office confirmed Britain would be pressing the UN Security Council to support a deadline of at least 21 days before any action is taken.

The deadline will give more time for British troops to be withdrawn from the humanitarian effort in Bosnia, if their lives are threatened. The Prime Minister's office said British diplomats at the UN were negotiating with the Russian and Chinese delegations to the Council to dissuade them from vetoing a new resolution to enforce the no-fly zone. The French had pressed for more urgent action, but had been persuaded to adopt greater caution.

'It is certainly our wish that there should be a pause between the passage of the (UN) resolution and its commencement for . . . reasons to do with the security of the UN humanitarian forces and also the British forces,' Mr Major told the BBC during his return flight. 'There is no agreement on the period,' he added.

The Prime Minister denied that he had been pushed into intervention in Bosnia. 'We have reacted very cautiously on Bosnia but I think we also have to realise what is happening there.'

In Brussels, Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, also warned yesterday that time was running out for Serbia. 'Whatever the result of the election, the general message is to give Serbia time, but not too much time, for rapid and radical changes in their political system. There is no deadline set . . . they know they have not got long,' he said.

SARAJEVO - The EC peace negotiator, Lord Owen, announced yesterday that he has hammered out a plan for demilitarising the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, Reuter reports.