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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Secret U.S. Balkan Plan Induces, Coerces Peace

BELGRADE -- A secret U.S. peace plan to end the war in former Yugoslavia uses a mixture of threats and inducements to the warring parties in Bosnia and makes some key concessions to the Serbs if they strike a deal, diplomats have said.

The diplomats, questioned over the last few days in European capitals, said the main outline of the plan contains many elements of previous efforts which have had little success.

Washington wants the plan, which includes possible territorial trade-offs within Bosnia and the threat of NATO air strikes, kept secret while the sensitive details are discussed with allies and the various sides in former Yugoslavia.

Under the terms of the plan, continued defiance by the Bosnian Serbs would mean U.S. President Bill Clinton dropping his opposition to lifting an arms embargo on the Moslems and U.S. pressure for powerful NATO air strikes against the Serbs. It would also mean the withdrawal of UN peacekeeping forces.

A refusal by the Moslem-led government to negotiate on the new plan would also bring a UN withdrawal and a probable lifting of the arms embargo for all parties -- ensuring the rebel Serbs could acquire more weapons to fuel the conflict.

But the plan goes beyond Bosnia and marks an attempt to reach an overall settlement that would include Serbia and Croatia, the two biggest former Yugoslav republics.

It calls for mutual recognition among Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia, thus ensuring that borders in the region will be stable and ending the dream of building a Greater Serbia which has been nursed by rebels in both Croatia and Bosnia.

Major powers have been trying to get Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to recognize Bosnia for months, offering a suspension of UN sanctions if he does so. Diplomats said the United States was now making it clear that Milosevic could expect an eventual lifting of the sanctions -- rather than just temporary suspension which would be kept under UN review -- if he helped bring about mutual recognition.

Within Bosnia, the U.S. proposal maintains the roughly even split between the Serbs and the Moslem-Croat federation proposed as part of an international peace plan last year. That plan was rejected by Serbs who control 70 percent of Bosnia. Previous reports have suggested the United States was ready to see that balance changed. Nevertheless, the Serbs are now being offered two new inducements to make peace.

The first is a recognition that they can keep the conquered eastern enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa, allocated as Moslem areas on the international peace map until now. In addition, a narrow strip of Serb-held land known as the Brcko corridor would be widened, giving greater security to the Bosnian Serbs.