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Bosnia: Karadzic Offers To Negotiate On War Crimes

Belgrade, 3 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - An aide to Radovan Karadzic today suggested the former Bosnian Serb leader wants to negotiate demands that he be tried on suspicion of war crimes and said he would mediate on Karadzic's behalf. Meanwhile, Bosnian Serb army chief General Pero Colic met in Banja Luka last night with Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plasvic and appeared to give her limited support in her power struggle with hardline rivals.

Karadzic associate Momcilo Krajisnik made the negotiation offer in Pale, Karadzic's stronghold, during a meeting today with UN human rights investigator Elisabeth Rehn.

Krajisnik said he wanted Rehn to meet Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb army commander who, like Karadzic, has been indicted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal.

Krajisnik suggested that he could be a mediator and would arrange a meeting among Rehn, Karadzic and Mladic. Krajisknik told Associated Presss television that Rehn could mediate between the tribunal and Mladic and Karadzic. Rehn did not comment on the offer.

Krajisnik is the Serb member of the three-man joint Bosnian presidency. He is believed to speak for Karadzic, who is in hiding because of fears he could be snatched by NATO commandos and forced to stand trial.

Meanwhile, after leaving the meeting with President Plavsic in Banja Luka last night, General Colic referred to her as the supreme commander. Colic is known as a follower of the hardline leader Karadzic, who is defyng Plavsic's authority.

During the talks with Plavsic, Colic reportedly said the army must stay neutral in the power struggle. But at the same time, he reportedly said that all important decisions must be taken by the Supreme Defence Council -- a body which is effectively controlled by hardliners.

Plavsic has made no statement about last night's meeting.

Meanwhile, NATO soldiers have returned control of a TV transmitter in northeast Bosnia to hardliners in exchange for a promise that inflammatory rhetoric aimed at undermining the peace process will not be broadcast.

The U.S. Defense Department said, however, that NATO forces remain near the transmitter in Udrigovo in northeast Bosnia to ensure compliance with the agreement.

The hardline Serbs, loyal to Karadzic, also agreed to give airtime to Plavsic, who is locked in a power struggle with Karadzic supporters.

Serbs on Monday threw stones at NATO forces guarding the transmitter in the second crowd attack on NATO forces in a week.

U.S. officials said new crowd-control equipment had been shipped to the Stabilization Force in Bosnia. The equipment includes "non-lethal" hand grenades which knock people down and dye balloons which can be thrown at agitators to mark them for later investigation by police.