WESTERN nations, alarmed by ethnic violence on their doorstep, are readying a naval blockade to enforce United Nations sanctions and military protection for relief convoys in former Yugoslavia.
Foreign ministers of the Western European Union and of NATO, attending a Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) summit in Helsinki, will meet today to decide on practical options for military action to support humanitarian efforts, European officials said.
Beleaguered Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, who flew to Helsinki to appeal for CSCE help, urged the United States to go further and intervene to destroy Serb weapons.
Without waiting for its partners, France announced it was sending 700 troops and a squadron of attack helicopters to protect UN relief operations in the besieged Bosnian capital of Sarajevo.
UN forces in Sarajevo have asked France to delay sending the helicopters until they can operate there safely, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said in the Bosnian capital yesterday.
"At the moment ... it's a question of whether it's safe enough really to bring those kinds of helicopters into this environment," he said.
The US, Britain, and Germany have all firmly ruled out committing ground troops.