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Mediators Scramble to Save Pact Bosnia President Dislikes


BELGRADE, Yugoslavia — While the president of Bosnia-Herzegovina pondered an unwanted partitioning of his country as the price for peace, international mediators scrambled Sunday to salvage a pact they hope will bring an end to the deadly conflict.

A cease-fire that was widely ignored across Bosnia when it went into effect Saturday appeared to take hold belatedly, suggesting some commitment on the part of government and rebel forces to give the latest armistice drive a chance.

U.N. mediator Thorvald Stoltenberg and Lord Owen of the European Community have summoned Bosnia's warring factional leaders to Sarajevo's airport Tuesday in hopes of compelling them to sign a treaty brokered in Geneva but rejected three weeks ago by the Muslim-led government.

A spokesman for Owen and Stoltenberg, John Mills, said the mediators are working to "bridge the gap" between the government and its Serbian and Croatian adversaries before Tuesday's meeting.

The mediators announced Thursday that leaders of all three factions--Serbs, Croats and the government--had indicated their readiness to sign the pact despite unresolved disputes over details of the ethnic partition.

But Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic has since said via Bosnian Radio that he has no intention of signing unless secessionist Serbs and Croats agree to give what will be left of Bosnia more territory and access to the Adriatic Sea.

Under the plan drafted by Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and Bosnian Croat chieftain Mate Boban at a secret June meeting that excluded the government, Bosnia would be divided into three ethnic ministates. Serbs who sparked the vicious war with their rebellion against independence in April, 1992, would be accorded 52% of the republic, Croats would get 17% and a landlocked rump of 31% would be left for Bosnia's Muslim Slavs and others still supportive of integration.

In response to Izetbegovic's demand for access to the sea, Boban told journalists in the Adriatic port of Split: "We will never concede any Croatian territory."

Karadzic has been equally adamant in refusing to relinquish the northwestern area around the city of Prijedor that Izetbegovic seeks. Prijedor was among numerous regions that were predominantly Muslim until Serbian nationalists loyal to Karadzic expelled or killed non-Serbs to ensure unchallenged control of the territory.

Although the standoff over land issues showed no sign of being resolved by Tuesday, the U.N. Protection Force spokesman for Bosnia said that most of the fighting has stopped.

"Military action in Bosnia has declined dramatically and it appears the cease-fire agreement is taking hold," Lt. Col. Bill Aikman told reporters in Sarajevo.

Aikman said U.N. forces even reported quiet from Mostar, where at least 15 people were killed Saturday. However, the Croatian news agency HINA reported continuing fighting around the central city of Vitez.

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