Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Security Council 'to discuss lifting Serbia sanctions'

BERLIN (Reuter) - The Russian deputy foreign minister, Vitaly Churkin, said yesterday that Bosnia peace negotiators want the UN Security Council to start discussing an easing of sanctions against rump Yugoslavia very soon.

Mr Churkin claimed the five-member 'contact group' meeting in Berlin (the US, Russia, Germany, Britain and France) agreed Belgrade should be supported after deciding to cut off military and financial aid to the Bosnian Serbs last month.

He declined to give details of the group's talks or say whether they discussed posting international observers along the Yugoslav-Bosnian border to monitor Belgrade's blockade of the Bosnian Serbs.

In Bonn, the German Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel, said the Serbian President, Slobodan Milosevic, must allow monitors along the border, adding: 'He must see that no weapons get through.' Mr Milosevic introduced a trade blockade against Bosnia's Serbs because they refused to follow him in accepting the peace plan to end the Bosnian war devised by officials from the contact group. But so far he has refused to submit the blockade to independent verification.

Asked if the group would ask the Security Council to discuss easing sanctions against rump Yugoslavia to reward it for the blockade, Mr Churkin said: 'Of course. The decision which Belgrade has taken is very serious and I think we will be satisfied.' He declined to say whether this meant foreign monitors would be posted. He said the Security Council would discuss the issue 'very soon'. Officials from other participating states had no comment on the meeting.

One diplomat reported unanimity at the contact group meeting and said there was no contradiction between what Mr Kinkel said in parliament and what the meeting had agreed. Mr Kinkel also told parliament: 'An easing of sanctions requires further deeds from Mr Milosevic . . . He must allow international observers to the closed border.'