Bosnian Cease-Fire Talks Begin

GENEVA -- Negotiations on a cease-fire in Bosnia-Herzegovina started Monday after the government said it was satisfied all Serb forces had met demands to withdraw from the safe haven of Gorazde. UN envoy Yasushi Akashi said some progress had been made at separate sessions with Bosnian government and Bosnian Serb representatives. But he said there was no consensus on proposals for a four-month truce. He was cautious about the chances of an accord by the scheduled end of the talks Tuesday. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic said he generally supported the UN's draft proposals for a cessation of hostilities, circulated last week. "The weakest side of this draft is that the cease-fire is time-limited. If is was permanent we would have accepted it without any remarks," Karadzic said. The Bosnian Serbs, who have seized 70 percent of Bosnian territory but have recently suffered minor losses, favor a long-term cease-fire which they hope would freeze their gains. Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic declined comment on the length of the cease-fire as he left his first meeting with Akashi. The government has previously indicated it would prefer a four- to six-week truce. The Bosnian government, encouraged by recent gains, is reluctant to accept a cessation of hostilities without a satisfactory peace package. The new alliance between Moslem and Croat forces has made troop movements easier and government forces now have a better supply of weapons and ammunition than before. Kresimir Zubak, president of the new Moslem-Croat federation, said the government would not agree to a cease-fire if it led to the "freezing of the existing situation on the field." Mediators from the United States, Russia, Britain, France and Germany came up with the four-month truce plan. This was intended to be the springboard for an overall peace package under which Serbs would get 49 percent of Bosnian territory, the rest going to the Moslem-Croat federation.