UN ponders latest peace deal

As the jet carrying Jimmy Carter left Belgrade on the last leg of his Bosnian peace mission, UN officials in the former Yugoslavia considered how best to implement the ceasefire brokered (amid much scepticism) by the former US president.

Yasushi Akashi, the senior UN envoy, is to visit Sarajevo and the Bosnian Serb "capital", Pale, for talks today on the truce due to begin at noon tomorrow. Alexander Ivanko, a UN spokesman, said in Sarajevo: "Our understanding is that both sides are serious in their pursuit of an agreement on the cessation of hostilities." The Carter visit "created a certain momentum for peace"; the UN must harness this if it is to change the standard pattern in Bosnia, where cease-fires are honoured only in the breach.

The first snows of winter fell on Sarajevo and the UN "safe area" of Bihac yesterday, where fighting had intensified over the past 48 hours. Tuesday had been "probably the worst day in Bihac thus far, at least in the recent past", according to Lieutenant-Colonel Gary Coward, a UN spokesman.

Senior officers are dusting off contingency plans for the monitoring or enforcement of a truce, while civilian officials ponder how best to persuade the parties to see in 1995 with four months of peace. Under the Carter deal, a cessation of hostilities should be negotiated over the next week with the aim of reaching agreement by 1 January.

However, there seems to be some confusion over the specifics of the deal: three separate agreements were signed by Mr Carter during his stay, two with the Serbs and one with the government. "The first impression is that the agreement reached is unclear,"the Sarajevo daily Oslobodjenje said yesterday.

Today Mr Akashi will try to flesh out the deal - possibly, officials say, incorporating elements of a ceasefire proposal he put to the parties several weeks ago. "It kind of dovetails with Carter's, but it's not the same thing," one source said. There appears to have been some tension between UN headquarters and the former US president over the deal.

"I think it's a bit too pro-Serb," said one senior UN official not known for favouring the Bosnian government. Mr Carter did not meet Mr Akashi after his visit to Sarajevo and Pale; instead, one source said: "Carter gave him two crumpled pieces of paper and said `these are the agreements, call me tomorrow if you have any questions'."

None the less, one UN official spoke of "very good prospects" for a genuine truce. Many Sarajevans agreed with Oslobodjenje: "The whole game with Carter was calculated just as the way for Pale to escape diplomatic isolation, and the `mutual agreement' asa way to avoid the Contact Group peace plan."

But the official was more optimistic: "The Serbs have a lot at stake in these agreements. If this fails, their prospects are pretty dim, and that was made clear to them." However, on the negotiations for a political settlement scheduled during the four-month truce, "That's a whole other ball game."

Another UN source said: "Even if there is a tiny, slim chance that there will be some progress because of this, it is at the cost of delivering the Serbs an enormous propaganda coup and giving up some of the pressure on the Serbs to sign the Contact Group plan."

Pale has repeatedly rejected that proposal; now it is committed only to negotiating on the "basis" of the plan, a wording the Bosnian government refused to accept. "There is no real sign both sides are inching towards some kind of settlement," the sourc e added.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent