UK troops might help to defend ceasefire

Click to follow
JOHN MAJOR yesterday hinted strongly that Britain would be prepared to commit troops to a peace-keeping operation in Bosnia, but only if the Owen-Vance talks produced lasting peace.

'The Owen-Vance proposals have certainly made progress. It is still some way short of a ceasefire and it is certainly short of a durable ceasefire. If there were to be a durable ceasefire, then British troops may not be required to help with the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

'At that stage, the UN might wish to put in a peace-keeping force and it would no doubt invite contributions from a large number of nations, not just Britain,' he said on BBC radio.

At the Geneva talks, Serbian leaders told international mediators yesterday that they did not intend to get involved in renewed Croat-Serb fighting in Croatia.

Cyrus Vance and Lord Owen said Dobrica Cosic, President of the rump Yugoslavia, and the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, agreed to let the UN Security Council handle the problem. 'They did express a readiness not to get involved and to leave it to the United Nations,' Lord Owen said.

The mediators said the fighting in Croatia had not derailed their negotiations to end the war in Bosnia, which were making 'slow, but definite' progress.

Mr Vance and Lord Owen said they expressed their grave concern about the Krajina flare-up in talks with the Croatian President, Franjo Tudjman, on Saturday. Lord Owen said he understood Croatia's frustration at not being able to reopen the Maslenica bridge, which meant that 700,000 Croats on the Dalmatian coast were cut off. 'That does not excuse taking the law into their own hands and the fighting, but I do understand their frustration.'

The mediators said the mandate of the United Nations Protection Force in the area, which expires next month, should be quickly renewed. They added that the Bosnian talks focused on a map for the proposed division of the republic into 10 autonomous regions. Only the Croats have accepted the proposed division.