Security Council set to lift sanctions

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The Independent Online

New York

The United Nations Security Council was ready yesterday to begin unravelling the sanctions in place against all sides in the Yugoslav conflict when and if a peace agreement emerged from peace talks in Dayton, Ohio.

A first resolution was aimed at suspending indefinitely the economic sanctions imposed on Serbia and Montenegro at the start of the war in 1992.

Also on the table was a resolution ending the arms embargo against the Bosnian government. Manoeuvres in the Security Council were being choreographed with the progress in Dayton. A first meeting to consider the two texts was held on Sunday evening, well before the outcome of the peace talks was certain.

By signalling the willingness of the UN to lift sanctions, Washington may have been looking to generate additional incentives for the governments of Serbia and Bosnia to overcome last-minute obstacles in Dayton and sign the accord.

The economic sanctions against Serbia would be suspended instantly and indefinitely on the signing of the peace agreement, diplomats said, although they could be reimposed just as quickly if Belgrade failed fully to honour it. All sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs would remain until it was firmly established that its forces had withdrawn behind "zones of separation" laid out in the peace plan. The suspension of the arms embargo on the Bosnians would be phased over 180 days.

The ban on the supply of heavy weapons would be the last to be lifted at the end of the six-month period.

Because of procedural rules, neither of the two resolutions could be formally adopted until today.

A peace deal would also oblige the Security Council to consider winding up the the UN's peace-keeping mission.n the former Yugoslavia and handing over to the planned Nato force.