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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

UN and NATO Dispute No-Fly Zone

SARAJEVO -- UN peacekeepers said Friday they had asked NATO to stop patrolling Bosnian airspace, to reduce the chances of clashes with Serb forces while there is hope of restarting peace talks.

But in Brussels, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher and NATO Secretary General Willy Claes dismissed reports that the alliance had agreed to the UN request.

"NATO is continuing to enforce the no-fly zone,'' Christopher said.

Claes said he knew of no request from the UN to halt or scale-down enforcement of the military flight ban.

"We have never received any request, can I be any clearer than that?'' Claes told reporters after a meeting in Brussels of foreign ministers from NATO and former East bloc nations.

The UN said it was acting "to help get the peace process going" as peace efforts moved into high gear with contact group ministers meeting in Brussels to work on a new plan and UN officials on a cease-fire mission in Bosnia.

The dispute over the no-fly zone is part of a running public battle fought by NATO, the UN and Western governments over the use of air strikes against the Serbs.

The UN has resisted NATO demands for aggressive air strikes, concerned for the safety of some 400 peacekeepers held hostage by the Bosnian Serb Army as human shields.

Although it can prevent NATO going into action against Bosnian Serb troops attacking Moslems, the UN cannot stop the alliance attacking missile batteries which "lock onto" its warplanes with radar.

UN commanders appear to have tried to close that loophole by halting the overflights.

In Brussels, foreign ministers of the major powers met to consider a plan to entice Bosnian Serbs into a peace agreement by holding out the possibility of an eventual link-up with Serbia.

Draft papers also explore the idea of giving both Bosnia's Moslems and Serbs a one-month time limit to agree land swaps.

But sources stressed a map which would leave the Serbs with 49 percent of Bosnia remained the basis for any accord.

They said Washington was insisting the Serbs accept Bosnia as a separate sovereign entity before giving the go-ahead on any form of tie-up.

French Foreign Minister Alain Jupp? and British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd fly to Belgrade on Sunday in the latest drive to find a diplomatic solution to the 32-month conflict.

While the foreign ministers met, UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi arrived in Sarajevo for talks with the Bosnian government.

Within seconds of his arrival, a Serb anti-tank missile slammed into the part of the Bosnian presidential building where the talks took place, eyewitnesses said. (Reuters, AP)