Balkan Leaders Brought To Table

GENEVA -- U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher summoned three rival Balkan leaders Wednesday, warning against increasing violations of the Bosnian peace accord and trying to heal a major rift between Moslems and Croats.

The list of unresolved issues was long, ranging from the need to free movement and media ahead of Bosnia's Sept. 14 elections to the creation of joint Moslem-Croat institutions in their shaky federation and demands to the leaders of Serbia and Croatia to hand over indicted war crimes suspects.

Christopher met individually with the presidents of Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia -- Alija Izetbegovic, Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman -- before all lunched together.

Izetbegovic said he would insist on dissolution of the Bosnian Croats' statelet in western Bosnia. "Otherwise," Izetbegovic said, "the Dayton peace agreement will be in mortal danger."

Muhamed Sacirbey, Bosnia's ambassador to the United Nations, described the ensuing talks as "bitter," but said he expected the Croats finally to announce the dissolution of their statelet.

"We are very close to an agreement," said the chief American envoy for the Balkans, John Kornblum.

U.S. negotiators tried and failed last week to press the Moslem-led government and Bosnian Croats into agreeing finally to abandon their own institutions and create joint ones for the Moslem-Croat federation that controls half of Bosnia.

The federation was created in 1994 to end a Moslem-Croat war, but has barely functioned.

Yet it is a cornerstone of the Dayton accord without which the whole Dayton edifice of a loosely united Bosnia would collapse.

Before leaving for Geneva, Tudjman sounded tough. "Our position is well known and there is no reason that we change anything there," he told Croatia's state news agency HINA.

His more moderate foreign minister, Mate Granic, who also was in Geneva, reiterated an oft-voiced promise that "we will do our utmost to reach an agreement."

But it was not clear whether any agreement would be any more workable than numerous previous accords that have remained mere paper.