Serbia faces tougher sanctions

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The Independent Online
FOREIGN ministers from the major powers meet in Geneva today to consider how best to press the recalcitrant Bosnian Serbs into accepting the latest peace plan. The ministers are expected to agree plans for tightening sanctions against Serbia, mentor of the leadership in Pale that effectively rejected the peace plan for the second time this week.

They may also increase protection for Bosnia's 'safe havens' by demanding the withdrawal of heavy weapons around four of the towns and by widening the weapons exclusion zones around Sarajevo and Gorazde.

But the Serbs show few signs of heeding international warnings - particularly from the United States - of 'consequences' if they persist in their refusal to approve the map of Bosnia drawn up by the US, Russia, Britain, France and Germany. A Serbian 'yes' to the deal, even if accompanied by demands for constitutional negotiations and the trading of territories, would be enough to head off the contact-group threats. But Pale, far from making any conciliatory moves, has instead taunted the diplomats with its military might.

Yesterday the United Nations admitted that on Thursday the Serbs had robbed a British UN convoy of classified Nato aerial photographs of Gorazde. They also seized more than 500 gallons of fuel from the convoy, which was to resupply British forces in Gorazde. Apparently the same convoy was ambushed by Serbian forces on Wednesday as it drove over Mt Igman towards Sarajevo, and a British peace-keeper was killed. The Serbs, who have closed all roads into Sarajevo to civilian traffic, claimed they had mistaken it for a commercial convoy. A senior UN official held talks in Pale yesterday about re-opening the Igman road, the only land route for supplies into the beleagured city.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) suspended all aid flights last week when Serbs fired on UN planes. Peter Kessler, a spokesman for UNHCR, said the UN had food for only 10 to 12 days stockpiled in Sarajevo. 'Our aid is the main food lifeline to the most vulnerable in the city,' he added. Worried citizens shopping for supplies were forced to run through the streets when gunfire erupted along Sniper Alley, wounding two civilians.

PALE - Greece's Foreign Minister, Karolos Papoulias, seeking to avert international action against the Serbs, said yesterday that he would carry a message from their leaders to today's meeting of major powers in Geneva, Reuter reports.

The Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said yesterday his government had done all it could for Bosnia's Serbs and felt betrayed by their refusal to co-operate in latest peace plans.