Move to resume aid for Sarajevo

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SARAJEVO - A United Nations plane flew into Sarajevo airport yesterday to test conditions for resuming aid flights to the stranded people of the city after a break of nearly three weeks, a UN spokesman announced.

Sarajevo was relatively calm yesterday after heavy shelling the previous day, but machine-gun fire could be heard from the suburbs, notably Dobrinja near the airport, Radio Sarajevo said.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, recommended in Geneva on Saturday that flights start again as soon as possible, and the UN spokesman here said flights would continue over the next few days if conditions permitted. The flights were suspended on 3 September after an Italian relief plane was shot down in Bosnia, killing all four aboard.

In Geneva, the leaders of the Serbian, Croatian and Muslim Slav communities in Bosnia-Herzegovina pledged on Saturday to protect relief flights, but Ms Ogata said it would be tomorrow at the earliest before relief flights could be resumed.

In Sarajevo on Saturday, Serbian tanks shelled the 20-storey parliament building, setting five or six floors on fire, and fired shells into unoccupied upper floors of the Holiday Inn hotel, where most Western journalists are staying. Yesterday, several people attending a funeral at a cemetery in the city were wounded when two mortar shells exploded. The wounded were evacuated to a hospital near by.

Water and electricity supplies were 'improving', with about 50 per cent of Sarajevo homes 'almost regularly' connected, Radio Sarajevo said.

Officials in Belgrade failed to react to a UN Security Council recommendation on Saturday to exclude the rump Yugoslavia from the General Assembly, whose 47th session opens today. The recommendation must still be ratified by the assembly's 179 members. Commenting on a statement by Yugoslavia's envoy to the UN, Dragomir Djokic, Politika newspaper said yesterday the Security Council decision was 'one of the most unfair in the history of the world body'.

Yugoslavia's Prime Minister, Milan Panic, was due to travel to New York late last night to address the General Assembly on Thursday. But his speech could be cancelled if Yugoslavia is effectively excluded from proceedings.

Unlike the Serbian government and the ruling former Communist Socialist Party, Mr Panic has declared himself in favour of discontinuing the membership of the old Yugoslav federation and applying for membership.