THE Bosnian Serbs face mounting diplomatic and military pressure to join efforts to end the war in the former Yugoslav republic.
Russian Special Envoy to Yugoslavia Vitaly Churkin, stopping in Sarajevo Sunday, said there could be a place for the Serbs in a budding Muslim-Croat federation.
That plan, worked out at the United States Embassy in Vienna in 10 days of talks, includes a constitution, a federal government, a parliament, and a decentralized system of cantons. Muslim and Croat negotiators accepted the plan on Sunday, and a final agreement on federation is due to be signed at the end of the week in Washington.
Mr. Churkin said the next stage in the peace process would be to get the Serbs to agree on an overall settlement. Bosnian Serb leaders initially rejected the federation idea out of hand, but statements Sunday suggested that they may be softening their attitude.
Churkin was in Belgrade yesterday to discuss with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and his Bosnian proxies a Serb role in the federation plan.
After talks with Churkin, the speaker of the Bosnian Serb parliament, Momcilo Krajisnik, said the Serbs were prepared to consider limited concessions. NATO says the UN gave no call for fire
NATO aircraft played cat and mouse for hours with Serb gunners threatening UN soldiers, but were forced to let them escape because the UN never ordered a strike, NATO officials said yesterday.
French officials have expressed frustration with the decision not to hit a Serb antiaircraft gun menacing French peacekeepers near Bihac in northwestern Bosnia. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said yesterday on French radio that he did not think the United Nations was ``firmly determined to use force each time it's necessary.''
Any NATO strike to protect UN ground personnel has to be approved by the United Nations. A NATO official said 4 1/2 hours elapsed between the French request for protection and the UN decision not to allow an airstrike.
UN spokesman Michael Williams said only 70 minutes elapsed between the French request for air cover and the call to prepare an attack. But he did not address the timing before the decision not to order the airstrike.