Bosnian leader urged to compromise with Serbs


UNITED NATIONS -- President Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim leader of the Bosnian government, will address the General Assembly this week, and advisers are pressing him to use the opportunity to propose a territorial compromise with the Serbs.

The official aim of Mr. Izetbegovic's trip is to explain why the Muslim-led Bosnian Parliament last week rejected the latest version of a peace plan that would split the country into three ethnic states.

Muhamed Sacirbey, Bosnia's representative to the United Nations, said yesterday that he also expected Mr. Izetbegovic to "launch some new ideas when he explains our position to the General Assembly on Wednesday."

The Muslim leader is expected to propose the establishment of some form of international control, either by the United Nations or the European Community, over the additional 7 percent of Bosnian territory the Muslims are seeking as a condition of abandoning their dream of an ethnically integrated country.

The latest version of the plan allots the Muslim-led government, which now controls about 10 percent of Bosnia-Herzegovina, approximately 30 percent of the country. The Serbs have said flatly that they will not surrender any more of the 57 percent of the territory the peace plan awards them.

But a proposal for international control would allow the Muslims to mitigate Western impatience with them for again rejecting what appears to be the best deal possible. It would also enable hundreds of thousands of refugees driven from these areas to return before winter begins.

The peace plan, proposed by Lord Owen of Britain and Thorvald Stoltenberg of Norway, the international mediators, temporarily entrusts the capital, Sarajevo, claimed by Muslims and Serbs alike, to U.N. administration and provides for the European Community to administer the southern city of Mostar, which Bosnians and Croats both want.

Another new idea for breaking the stalemate is for Muslims and Croats to fuse their ethnically separate states into a new federation, essentially re-creating the traditional Muslim-Croatian alliance against the Serbs that fell apart earlier this year, ending hopes of preserving Bosnia as a single state.

Mr. Izetbegovic suggested such a federation about two months ago and, since then, there have been numerous secret contacts nTC and discussions between the two sides to explore the idea.

Such a federation would end the isolation of the Muslims, ensure their access to the sea, and bring peace to the areas of central Bosnia where fighting between Muslims and Croats continues. It would also give Croats and Muslims a diplomatic edge over the Serbs by showing that they want reconciliation, allow Zagreb to withdraw forces fighting in Bosnia, and assure Bosnia's foreign supply lines, particularly for oil.

Government troops clashed with Muslim separatists in northwest Bosnia yesterday, and Bosnian Croats and Muslims signed a new cease-fire for Mostar that was quickly reported broken.

One man was killed and two people were wounded yesterday in Velika Kladusa, in the Bihac region, when supporters of Mr. Izetbegovic stormed the local radio station, said Col. Thierry Boutillier, commander of a French battalion of U.N. peacekeepers.

He said police loyal to the Bihac rebel leader, Fikret Abdic, restored order, and the station remained in the hands of Abdic backers.

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