SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — The rift between the United Nations and Bosnia-Herzegovina's leaders widened Friday when the Muslim-led government said it will no longer deal with top U.N. envoy Yasushi Akashi.
The shift came after the government asked the U.N. Security Council to review the peacekeepers' mission in Bosnia.
"We don't talk to Yasushi Akashi anymore," Hasan Muratovic, the minister in charge of U.N. relations, told a Norwegian newspaper. "For us, he does not exist anymore."
Akashi, a Japanese diplomat, has a mild manner that contrasts with the macho bluster of the warring parties. Bosnia's government considers him too conciliatory toward the rebel Bosnian Serbs.
On Friday, after U.N. spokesman Lt. Col. Gary Coward appealed to the government to stop attacking Serbs from locations around the U.N. compound in Sarajevo, three mortars landed within 75 yards of the U.N. building.
Serbian spokesman Col. Milovan Milutinovic denied that Bosnian Serbs had lobbed two shells that punched large holes in the U.N. headquarters Thursday. But U.N. officials insisted that the shells came from Serbian positions.
Despite daily shelling that injured dozens and killed four civilians at a Sarajevo market Friday, government troops are pressing a 2-week-old offensive to crack the 38-month siege of Sarajevo.
Government soldiers and Serbs battled Friday around a village just north of Sarajevo with heavy machine gun, mortar and artillery exchanges, Coward said.
The location of the battle indicated that government forces outside the city had advanced 2 1/2 miles toward it in the past two weeks, Coward said.
By trying to press Serbs on the battlefield, the government has cast even more doubt on the future of 23,000 peacekeepers in Bosnia, whose mission already was seriously compromised by Serbs.
There has been widespread speculation that a new rapid-reaction force, made up mostly of British and French troops, will eventually help U.N. troops withdraw from Bosnia.