Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Optimism Regroups in Bosnia Diplomats Push Peace; Serbs Welcome Russians

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Optimism Regroups in Bosnia Diplomats Push Peace; Serbs Welcome Russians

Article excerpt

With the threat of NATO air strikes averted, peacekeepers moved in Monday to control the remaining Serb heavy guns around Sarajevo while diplomats turned up the heat for a political settlement.

Immediate air strikes against remaining Serb artillery positions were unneeded, NATO and U.N. officials said. But NATO planes flew over Sarajevo to monitor Serb compliance.

Although some Serb guns remained in place after the deadline of 1 a.m. local time Monday, the Serbs were credited with trying to comply with an ultimatum that could have put NATO into combat for the first time.

Any more shelling in Sarajevo will meet with an "immediate military response," warned Gen. Jean Cot, commander of U.N. forces in former Yugoslavia.

Monday's catchword - from Russians, Americans and Europeans - was momentum: Use the halt in the siege of Sarajevo as a model for a wider settlement in Bosnia, where 200,000 people have died or are missing in 22 months of war.

At a White House news conference, President Bill Clinton said the next challenge would be "to build on this week's progress and create a lasting and workable peace for all the people of Bosnia."

Clinton said the allied goal now was to put the emphasis back on diplomacy in the hope of reaching an overall peace agreement to end the 22-month civil war. He said Russia would be a partner in the effort to help "reinvigorate the peace process."

Clinton said Bosnian Serbs were in "effective compliance" with NATO's ultimatum that they withdraw their heavy guns from around Sarajevo or surrender them to U.N. peacekeepers. But he said any violation would bring a "certain and swift" response from the West.

In a visit to Hungary, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said, "We must not let this favorable moment pass." Kozyrev also stressed the need for cooperation between Russia and the West on Bosnia.

Russia, traditionally pro-Serb, sent 400 soldiers to join U.N. peacekeepers in Sarajevo on Monday. The Bosnian Serbs said they welcomed Russia's stronger role.

Leaders of Bosnia's Muslim-led government expressed optimism that the war could be ended.

Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic met in Washington on Monday with Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher. Silajdzic said nothing was the same after the NATO ultimatum.

"We have a long way to go, but we believe that this is the first step toward the peace because it restores the balance of power in Bosnia," he said.

Bosnia's Muslim president, Alija Izetbegovic, also applauded NATO's action.

"Celebrate this victory, and don't be afraid any more," he said on national television. The removal of Serb guns is "first in a line of good things that will happen in Sarajevo," he said.

Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic, previously pessimistic Sunday about the lack of air strikes, changed his tune and said NATO's power and U. …

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