Yeltsin threat to scrap embargo

President Boris Yeltsin yesterday threatened unilaterally to abandon sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia - and praised the role of the Serbian leader, Slobodan Milosevic, with whom he held talks in Moscow.

The Russian leader said that his meeting with Mr Milosevic had been "very important - probably historic". Mr Milosevic, in turn, praised Mr Yeltsin's "fair stance", and thanked him for his "great understanding".

Mr Yeltsin complained that Franjo Tudjman, the Croatian leader, had failed to come to Moscow for what was initially planned as a peace summit, which would bring together both Mr Tudjman and Mr Milosevic. Mr Yeltsin suggested that Mr Tudjman had come "under certain pressure" - an apparent reference to Bonn and Washington.

He launched a peace plan, and called for an international summit, to be organised by Moscow, which would bring together Mr Milosevic, Mr Tudjman, and the Bosnian president, Alija Izetbegovic. Zagreb's initial reaction was cool.

The Russian President said he would press the five-nation contact group to agree to lift sanctions against Belgrade. Any delay, he said, might "prompt unilateral steps".

Mr Milosevic's talk of President Yeltsin's "great understanding" is understandable, since the Russian leader was at pains to tell his guest that the war in former Yugoslavia "was unleashed through no fault of yours".

Mr Yeltsin's peace plan consists of a mostly familiar wish-list: Croatia is to "respect norms of international humanity and the rights of the Serb minority", with an immediate termination of hostilities; "emergency measures" to ensure the "unhampered return of all refugees to their homes"; the safety of UN peacekeepers; and an internationally agreed peace deal should be implemented.