Carrington to stay 'but needs support'

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LORD CARRINGTON yesterday denied he was quitting as the EC negotiator on the Yugoslav crisis, but has privately made it clear that he requires greater support from the French and others if he is to carry on, British diplomats said yesterday.

'I was asked by the European Community whether I would do this and I don't think you give up because things have gone very badly, unless those who appointed you want to,' Lord Carrington told the BBC after a newspaper report said he was close to resigning. 'I have been going now for 11 months. I can't pretend it has been other than very hard work and very dispiriting, but I don't think one ought to give up until it is obvious that the thing has run out of steam.'

Diplomats said Lord Carrington was 'concerned' last week when some European governments, led by France, sought at the G7 summit in Munich to supplant his conference by a more heavyweight forum to include the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. This appeared to have been resolved after Lord Carrington asked Douglas Hurd to insert a reference to his conference in the G7 summit communique as the 'key forum' on the crisis, and to make it clear any wider forum was in support of his conference.

But Lord Carrington became concerned again the following day, diplomats said, when he saw a report in The Independent quoting Roland Dumas, the French foreign minister, as telling reporters privately that 'Carrington has reached his limit'. Lord Carrington, who was in New York holding talks at the United Nations, immediately opened discussions with the UN on how the two forums could be meshed in practice. 'They found this could be done without difficulty,' one diplomat said.

'Carrington is not about to throw in the towel,' said a British source. 'But he expects and bloody well deserves support. Carrington's view is that this is grim stuff and no fun, and if I am going to keep going I do require support.'

'This means no more private briefings by Mr Dumas or others saying different things to what has been agreed with the partners,' one source said. A new litmus test will come next Monday, when EC foreign ministers meet in Brussels to discuss the crisis following Mr Hurd's trip to Yugoslavia. 'Carrington will expect further expression of support then,' a European official said.

Emphasising that he was still in action, Lord Carrington's office yesterday said the three sides in the Bosnian conflict had responded favourably to his invitation to the EC-sponsored negotiations on Yugoslavia in London tomorrow. This means Mr Hurd will not meet the three leaders if he pays his first visit to Sarajevo on Thursday as planned but, as one official said, 'it is more important that Carrington sees them'.