* Peace mediators Lord David Owen and Thorvald Stoltenberg briefed NATO yesterday on the prospects for ending the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, with the alliance poised to send about 50,000 troops to tackle the risky job of policing an agreement.

Lord Owen told reporters he hoped the Bosnian Assembly would approve a deal next week that would split the republic into three ethnic mini-states. He said negotiations on the territorial divisions between the Croats, Muslims, and Serbs could continue even after the peace deal was agreed on in principle but suggested there was little room for maneuver until that happened.

Owen and Mr. Stoltenberg, who have said they may finally be close to brokering a deal that would end the war, met with NATO Secretary-General Manfred Woerner, top military representatives, and alliance ambassadors.

If peace is near, NATO faces the biggest operation in its history outside the territory of its member states.

Stoltenberg said it was crucial that any force sent to Bosnia be able to police the agreement. NATO, which agreed last week to start formal planning to enforce the agreement, now seems almost certain to get the job. The United Nations Secretary-General said this week the UN did not have the resources for the operation.

Owen said the operation would have to take place with tough enforcement provisions under Chapter Seven of the UN charter.

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