International mediators and leaders from former Yugoslavia resumed talks yesterday on ending war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but the leader of Bosnia's Serbs ruled out a quick solution.
An agreement is possible "only if the conference does not strive for a quick and final solution," Radovan Karadzic said before heading to Geneva.
The UN and European mediators have rejected Mr. Karadzic's demands for a separate Serbian state within Bosnia, proposing instead a single state with 10 autonomous provinces. If the Serbs refuse to budge on the issue, experts say, the conference will fail, leading to an upsurge in fighting and possible Western military intervention.
The Bosnian Serbs reportedly were offering a new proposal for the structure of a Bosnian state at the talks, which appeared to pull back from their insistence on a mini-state.
Cyrus Vance, the UN mediator, and Lord Owen, the European Community envoy, are chairing the meeting.
Under the mediators' proposal, Slav Muslims, who account for 44 percent of the population, would control three provinces. Ethnic Croats, who make up 17 percent, would predominate in two. The Serbs, about one-third of Bosnia's 4.3 million people, would get four regions covering about half of the republic.
Although self-governing, the provinces would not have the right to secede from Bosnia, quashing Bosnian Serb hopes of someday uniting in a Greater Serbia with Serb-dominated Yugoslavia.
On Friday, an emergency session of the Bosnian Serb legislature rejected the plan.
But the Serbs may have lost some negotiating strength when Serbian gunmen killed Bosnian Vice Premier Hakija Turajlic Friday. Turajlic was en route to Sarajevo from the airport in a UN armored vehicle when his convoy was stopped by Serb nationalists. After a 90-minute delay, a Serb gunmen reportedly shot Turajlic through the open door of the vehicle.
The international community expressed outrage over the killing, and Mr. Izetbegovic said Saturday his government would suspended participation in the talks in protest. He backed off that position under pressure from Vance and Owen.