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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Envoy Cites New Serb Flexibility

SARAJEVO -- U.S. envoy John Kornblum has found Bosnian Serb leaders suddenly more amenable to the idea of having former president Radovan Karadzic, an indicted war criminal, leave Bosnia, U.S. sources say.


Kornblum, U.S. diplomatic trouble-shooter in former Yugoslavia, went to the Bosnian Serb headquarters of Pale on Wednesday to call separatist leaders to task for their disregard of key provisions of the 1995 Dayton peace treaty.


Kornblum read out a list of violations including failure not only to deliver Karadzic to a UN war crimes tribunal but to abide by a new U.S.-brokered accord mandating his disappearance from politics, a U.S. source said.


U.S. diplomats involved in the talks said the Serb leadership strikingly did not reject the idea of having Karadzic leave Bosnia to prevent his backstage influence affecting campaigning for countrywide-elections in September.


Karadzic has relinquished formal powers to stop Western organizers from kicking his SDS party out of the elections but still communicates surreptitiously with party cohorts who in turn depict him as a Serb hero in public.


"Kornblum went there to tell them we want Karadzic out of there, that we are watching them," said a senior U.S. diplomat.


"Aleksa Buha [the Serb foreign minister who replaced Karadzic as SDS chairman] interestingly did not reject the idea of Karadzic going but said it would take some time to carry out."


U.S. sources said Serb leaders were more defiant about Karadzic's status in earlier meetings. "But they weren't so inflexible this time," one said.


U.S. sources indicated there was discussion about removing Karadzic to Montenegro, the neighboring Yugoslav republic where he was born in 1945, as a stopping place on a one-way trip to The Hague, seat of the tribunal.


NATO peace troops in Bosnia are authorized to arrest Karadzic and more than 70 other people indicted for war crimes, most of them Serbs, if they stumble upon them in the course of normal patrols, but not to hunt them down.


Karadzic has eluded capture by staying mainly in his heavily guarded compound in Pale, a mountain resort 30 kilometers southeast of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo. Kornblum met Buha, Bosnian Serb acting president Biljana Plavsic and parliament speaker Momcilo Krajisnik, all ultranationalists in the mould of Karadzic.


"They told me the agreement would be honoured fully and took note of my criticisms ... I told them, as we have in the past, that we're happy to receive assurances but we need to have concrete [action]. Karadzic [must] disappear," Kornblum said.


The U.S. envoy demanded Serb compliance with other major planks of the Dayton accord, especially free movement of civilians -- including election candidates and voters -- across ethnic boundaries with Moslem-Croat territory.


Another important topic was Serb resistance to Dayton's prescription for international arbitration to decide the fate of the strategic Brcko Corridor by the end of 1996. Serb forces conquered it in 1992 and expelled Moslems and Croats, the local population majority, to seal their grip on the only strand between Serb lands in east and west Bosnia. It also connects Serb western Bosnia to "Mother" Serbia.