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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bosnian Serbs Reject World Plan to End War

SARAJEVO -- International peace efforts in Bosnia suffered a major setback Thursday after Serbs effectively rejected the latest peace plan and the Moslem-led government said it had withdrawn its acceptance of the deal.

Bosnian Serbs spelt out their objections to the peace plan drawn up by the "contact group" of five major powers on Thursday and called for further negotiations.

The failure of the Serbs to give the peace blueprint full backing was criticized by the United States, France and Germany but Russia took a more conciliatory line.

The divergence between the major powers over the Serb response cast doubt on whether they can form a common front to force the Serbs to agree to peace.

U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry said the Bosnian Serb response could result in tighter sanctions against Serbia and a lifting of the arms embargo against the Bosnian Moslems.

"Yes, I am disappointed with the Serbian response," Perry said during a visit to Albania.

But Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev of Russia, a traditional Serb ally, said the Serbs may have neither fully accepted nor rejected the plan and further negotiations were possible.

The five powers responsible for the peace proposal -- the United States, Russia, Britain, France and Germany -- planned to consider punitive measures to try to bring the Serbs into line and were expected to meet on July 30.

"They will be considering a whole series of potential actions. They will include the possibility of tightening the sanctions on Serbia," Perry told a news conference in Tirana.

"As the last resort they will be considering the lifting of arms embargo on Bosnia."

Perry had been scheduled to visit Sarajevo on Friday but canceled his trip after UN aircraft came under fire at the city's airport.

Sarajevo airport was shut down on Thursday for the second day running after shots were fired at three aid aircraft, wounding one person, UN and U.S. sources said.

UN peacekeepers also came under fire on the ground in Sarajevo when a party working on the city s tram line was pinned down for 30 minutes by a firefight between Serb and Moslem forces. Bosnia' s Moslem President Alija Izetbegovic on Thursday afternoon withdrew his government's unconditional approval of the peace plan in response to Serb demands.

Izetbegovic told reporters the refusal of the Bosnian Serbs to fully accept the deal meant his own Moslem-led government now wanted to add conditions to its acceptance of the plan.

Bosnia's Moslem-Croat alliance earlier this week had accepted the contact group plan, which divides the country roughly in half between the federation and their Serb foes.

In Geneva, the Serbs said they sought further negotiations on the shape of a new state linking their territory with the Moslem-Croat federation before accepting the peace plan.

The Serb response was handed to the "contact group" on Wednesday. U.S. official Charles Redman suggested it amounted to rejection of the plan.

UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi said the United Nations and NATO were jointly planning punitive action against Serbs and the moves might force the withdrawal of peacekeeping troops.