INTERNATIONAL mediators launched another round of shuttle diplomacy with Croatian, Serbian, and Bosnian leaders yesterday, putting new pressure on Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic to negotiate directly with his Serbian and Croatian counterparts on a plan to carve up Bosnia-Herzegovina.
But foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G-7) industrialized nations, meeting in Tokyo, agreed yesterday that Serbs and Croats should be barred from imposing settlement terms on Muslims to end the war, according to Secretary of State Warren Christopher.
United Nations envoy Thorvald Stoltenberg and European envoy Lord David Owen were due to meet with Croatian leader Franjo Tudjman yesterday in Zagreb, Croatia. They were expected to meet today with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.
The leaders of Croatia and Serbia have agreed on a plan to divide Bosnia into three ethnic mini-states.
But Mr. Izetbegovic has opposed the plan, saying it would reward Serb aggression and leave Bosnian Muslims with a tiny state sandwiched between hostile Serb and Croat nations.
The deepening humanitarian crisis in Bosnia and battlefield alliances between Serbs and Croats added urgency to the negotiations. The warring factions have shown increasing disdain for UN peacekeepers and relief workers, blocking aid deliveries with growing frequency. UN aid workers say supplies are being cut by 50 percent or more to some areas.
Of even greater concern for the Muslim-led government is the cooperation between Bosnian Serb and Croat forces, former enemies, in some battle zones. Bosnian Croats and government forces initially fought together against the Serbs, who rebelled in April 1992 over Bosnia's secession from Serb-dominated Yugoslavia. Both Serbs and Croats are now seeking territory within Bosnia.
"The situation is much more difficult to deal with now than it would have been last year or two years ago," Secretary Christopher said in Tokyo.
He said the foreign ministers recommended an indefinite extension of economic sanctions against Serbia, and urged Mr. Milosevic to abandon his threat to force international monitors to leave the predominantly Albanian ethnic enclave of Kosovo.
The concern is that Serbia, once it has its way in Bosnia, may then move to suppress Albanian autonomy sentiments in Serbia's southernmost province.