Geneva, March 18 (RFE/RL) - U.S. Secretary of State Warren
Christopher has expressed concern at the human suffering caused by
the violence and destruction in Sarajevo districts being transferred
to Bosnian government control.
Christopher told reporters Sunday night that "the humanitarian
aspect is of great concern to the United States."
He said he will raise the matter with all three Balkan leaders in
talks in Geneva today (Monday), as well as with Admiral Leighton
Smith, commander of NATO forces in Bosnia.
But he says he does not believe the incidents of arson, violence and
intimidation pose a serious threat to the peace process.
Much of what United Nations officials call "a reign of terror" is
taking place in Grbavica, the last of five Sarajevo districts to
change hands as part of the Dayton peace agreement.
It stipulates that on Tuesday, 90 days after the signing of the
Accords, Serbs, Croats and Muslims will exchange territories, while
continuing to preserve the multi-ethnic character of Bosnian society.
Christopher says the U.S. is trying to create conditions that will
enable the parties to maintain a stable population.
"But there are limitations to what we can do to compel people to
follow the goal of multi-ethnicity," he said.
Christopher says the U.S. remains determined to do as
much as it can but that "it is obviously difficult, especially now at
a time of transfer of control."
In other aspects, he says implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords
is proceeding largely as planned. "The peace process is on track," he
Christopher said the Monday meetings with the leaders of Croatia,
Serbia and Bosnia mark a new phase in implementing the accords,
ending a three-month stage in which the fighting forces of the
various factions disengaged, disarmed and withdrew to create zones of
seperation, eliminating the danger of direct confrontation.
The new phase that begins this week, Christopher said moves away
from military aims to focus on political and civilian reconstruction.
The chief goals of the U.S. in this phase, Christopher said are to
create conditions for free and fair elections, scheduled to be held
on September 1st, to eliminate barriers to freedom of movement and
trade, and to improve cooperation with the war tribunal that is
investigating crimes against humanity committed during the fighting.
He said his talks today with Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic, Croatia's
Franjo Tudjman and Bosnia's Ejup Ganic will focus on these issues.
Christopher asked the leaders to come to Geneva to meet him for a
review of the peace process. He plans to have a working lunch and
spend all afternoon in separate and joint talks with the Balkan
presidents at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
Chriatopher says he will be seeking common ground between them,
shuttling from one to the other and at times calling the leaders
together for joint talks.
Christopher says he will also go ahead with a controversial meeting
of the Balkan leaders with the five-member Contact Group which
consists of France, Britain, Germany, the U.S. and Russia.
But only four countries will participate today. Russia has refused
to attend, saying this round of talks is unnecessary because Russia
is hosting a meeting of the Contact Group with Balkan foreign
ministers in Moscow on Saturday.
Christopher Sunday dismissed the Russian pique as "insignificant,"
stressing that the Monday meetings are intended to ensure the success
of the Moscow conference.
"It would be useful to have daily meetings on Bosnia," he said,
adding that the U.S. bears a heavy responsibility for the Bosnia
peace process and believes it is "critical" to have the talks on the
eve of a transfer of power from security forces to new authorities in