Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Muslim Demands End Talks to Find Peace in Bosnia

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Muslim Demands End Talks to Find Peace in Bosnia

Article excerpt

Bosnian peace talks abruptly broke off Wednesday just as it appeared that the warring factions were on the verge of approving a plan to carve up the country.

Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic said the plan on the table failed to guarantee the survival of a future Muslim state. Other leaders accused Izetbegovic and his government of making unreasonable demands:

Mate Boban, the Bosnian Croat leader, said, "The forces of death prevail."

President Franjo Tudjman of Croatia said: "Unfortunately the war will continue. This will make it clear who is responsible for the failure of this conference and who is to be held responsible for the continued suffering of the people and for jeopardizing peace in this area and in the Balkans."

But Izetbegovic claimed that the Croats and Serbs were unwilling to give the Muslims access to the sea and more land in northwestern Bosnia. "The minimum of minimums which we put before the conference would have allowed an economically and politically viable state," Izetbegovic said.

Izetbegovic and Tudjman said they were willing to return to the negotiating table. But Tudjman warned that a peaceful settlement would now take "weeks if not months." He added: "I am leaving Geneva. All the participants are leaving Geneva."

Charles Redman, a special U.S. envoy, said: "It's a tragedy they could not come to a solution. They were very close to an agreement, but I accept Izetbegovic's reasons."

The talks had resumed Tuesday with the Serbs and Croats accepting the basic plan dividing up Bosnia into three ethnic ministates.

And just minutes before the talks broke off, the Bosnian government scaled back its demands for more land, saying it would settle for 4 percent more than what was proposed by the international mediators. Izetbegovic had previously pressed for 10 percent more.

He also held out for land access to the Adriatic Sea through the Croatian resort of Neum. …

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