Yugoslav and Serbian leaders held crisis talks deep into the night yesterday to try to prevent the collapse of a United Nations peace plan for Yugoslavia.

The state presidency and Serbian leaders from across the country were locked in debate after 13 hours with no sign that they had persuaded Serb leaders in Croatia to let the UN send peacekeeping troops to areas under their control.

The world body needs the backing of all the warring sides in Yugoslavia's seven-month conflict to deploy up to 10,000 peacekeepers in Croatia.

But leaders of the Serb-controlled Krajina region in Croatia refused Saturday to bow to the pressure and said they would not allow UN peacekeepers into their territories.

"The [Krajina] government concluded that as there were no changes in the ... plan, there is no reason to change our previous stance," a Krajina spokesman said before the talks.

"They are still talking," said an official at Krajina's Belgrade office yesterday. The Belgrade-based news agency Tanjug confirmed the meeting was still in progress.

No details were available, but the Krajina leaders appeared to be holding out, despite threats of unspecified sanctions by the presidency last week if they did not accept the UN plan.

Failure to reach agreement would be a deep blow to hopes of ending the fighting between Croatian militia and Serb forces backed by the Yugoslav Army since Croatia declared independence last June. More than 6,000 people have been killed.

Many Yugoslavs and diplomats say the UN plan is the only hope of securing a lasting cease-fire, although a fragile truce has held since Jan. 3.

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