UN fails to settle Gorazde dispute

Click to follow
SARAJEVO (Reuter) - A top UN official failed yesterday to resolve a dispute over the withdrawal of Serbian forces from the Muslim enclave of Gorazde that is blocking the resumption of overall peace talks.

Sergio Vieira de Mello, head of civilian affairs for Unprofor, said after meeting the Bosnian Prime Minister, Haris Silajdzic, that the Muslim-led government was refusing to sign an agreement negotiated on Saturday for the withdrawal of remaining Serbian forces from the enclave. He said the Muslims had argued that the accord has nothing to do with them, and were calling for the pull-out of the 150 Serbian troops inside the enclave as a condition for their resuming talks on an overall ceasefire in Bosnia.

The talks in Sarajevo came as the Bosnian President, Alija Izetbegovic, failed to win unqualified support from representatives of France's leading political parties for an end to a UN arms embargo on his country. However, the Bosnian leader said after talks in Paris he was satisfied with his private visit to the French capital to drum up support for his government.

According to French officials, Mr Izetbegovic might remain in France for a mid-week meeting with Bosnian Croat and Serb leaders and representatives of the European Union, the United States, Russia and the United Nations.

Mr Silajdzic was reported to be heading for Geneva and on to France, but there was no word from the Bosnian Serbs on whether they would take part in any new peace talks.

Mr de Mello, asked if the Muslims would sign Saturday's agreement between the UN and the Serbs, replied: 'I have not received any such assurance. In fact I don't think they are prepared to sign it.

'On the other hand we have had I think useful discussions that I hope will lead to Bosnian Serbs complying with the agreement that they themselves have signed,' he added.