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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Progress by Belgrade Could Lift Sanctions

SHANNON AIRPORT, Ireland -- U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said Tuesday UN sanctions against Serbia could be eased if Belgrade's leaders follow through on promises to halt aid to Bosnian Serbs.

He said Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic appeared to be making good on his pledge to close the border with Serb-held areas of Bosnia in the wake of their rejection of the latest international peace plan, but more proof was needed before the UN Security Council moves to lift the sanctions.

"There has been at least a partially effective attempt to close the border between Serbia and Bosnia," Christopher told reporters. "It appears Milosevic is carrying out the intention he publicly expressed by actions on the ground."

He added: "If there is a substantial period of enforcement, of the intention that was expressed, if the border was effectively closed and if the Bosnian Serbs seem to be deprived of important aid and war-making material, clearly there then would be a case for easing of the sanctions."

Another senior official said there was a consensus among the countries that drafted the peace plan for Bosnia -- the United States, France, Britain, Germany and Russia -- that if Milosevic made good on his promises over a period of time, some effort would be made to lighten the impact of sanctions.

The comments marked a significant step for U.S. President Bill Clinton's administration.

For most of the 2 1/2 years it has been in office, the administration has resisted European efforts to use aggressively the lure of removing sanctions as a way to get Belgrade to bear down on its proxies, the Bosnian Serbs -- whom the West holds responsible for the excesses of the Bosnian war.

At the urging of Russia and other European states, rump Yugoslavia, comprising Serbia and Montenegro, severed all political and economic ties with the Bosnian Serbs last Thursday and closed the border to commercial traffic.

Also Tuesday, Russia stopped short of condemning a planned referendum by the Bosnian Serbs that is expected to ratify their rejection of the peace plan.