Muslims face stark choice: join talks or accept defeat

THE CLINTON administration has joined the European allies in urging the Bosnian government to attend peace talks now due to open in Geneva on Tuesday or face near-certain defeat at the hands of the Serbs and Croats.

The advice reflects a deepening mood of resignation among the allies that, as Serb forces tighten their hold on Sarejevo, the military position of the Muslims has become hopeless, and that surrender may be forced upon them in a matter of weeks. It is also a final signal to the Bosnian government that it should abandon any hope of last-minute military intervention by the West.

'We are explaining to them that they have only two alternatives: to continue fighting in a deteriorating situation or start negotiating,' a senior Western official confirmed in Washington.

But even as the advice was issued, there were suggestions that the Serbian leadership was considering boycotting the talks, preferring to crush the Muslims militarily.

The Geneva talks, which the Bosnian government agreed to attend on Tuesday if today's ceasefire in Sarajevo holds, are based on a joint Serbian-Croatian plan that would partition Bosnia's territory into Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian Muslim mini-states.

'I question whether a meeting at this juncture could be called negotiations without misusing the word,' the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, said in a letter to the co-chairmen of the talks, Lord Owen and Thorvald Stoltenberg. He suggested instead that the talks should be postponed indefinitely.

This possibility, in the light of the White House position, has caused an outcry and increased pressure on the Clinton administration for action.

In an open letter drafted by Representative Frank McCloskey, a Democrat, a group of 78 Congressmen urged Mr Clinton to use force to break the siege of Sarajevo. 'We are writing this open letter to appeal to you to take the immediate action necessary to save the 380,000 residents of Sarajevo from a humanitarian disaster of immense magnitude.' It asked the President to issue a 72-hour deadline for the Serbs to cease fire, withdraw from positions surrounding the city and remove their blockades, or face action by Nato warplanes.

The US Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, caused uproar last week when he all but admitted that Washington had given up hope of helping Bosnia to repel the Serbian and Croatian onslaught. The US, he told journalists on Wednesday, is 'doing all it can consistent with our national interests'.

The American Jewish Congress, in a letter to Mr Clinton, criticised Mr Christopher's remarks. 'The cold indifference to the massive human catastrophe in Bosnia expressed by your administration's policy constitutes a betrayal of fundamental American values, no less than America's national interest,' the group said.

On Thursday, President Clinton attempted to dress up Mr Christopher's remarks in more positive language. 'That is not true that we are giving up on it . . . We have aggressively committed ourselves to the process in Geneva,' the President insisted. 'We are continuing to work with the Europeans on other options.'

Although Mr Clinton has endorsed lifting the arms embargo on Bosnia and using air strikes to help to protect Muslim enclaves, he has in effect stopped pushing for that strategy in the face of European opposition. The remaining options appear to be those already agreed and implemented: economic sanctions against Serbia and enforcement of the Bosnia no-fly zone. The only possible new initiative may be to activate allied plans to provide Nato air cover for UN forces protecting the six remaining 'safe havens' in Bosnia.

Should a peace plan arise out of Geneva, the US may once again have to decide whether to send ground troops to the region. President Clinton has said only that America would 'participate' in the implementation of any truce.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform