FILE ID:95082502.POL




(Sees small "window of opportunity" for peace) (800)

By Jacquelyn S. Porth

USIA Security Affairs Correspondent

Washington -- The head of the U.S. peace mission to the former

Yugoslavia August 25 called on the Bosnian Serbs to participate in the

peace process "and not try to destroy it."

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs Richard

Holbrooke, head of the U.S. delegation which departs August 27 to

continue the search for peace in the Balkans, cautioned that if the

Bosnian Serbs refuse to become part of the peace process, "there will

be consequences" that they would not "wish to see happen."

At a briefing at the State Department, he also said that although

there is a small "window of opportunity" to achieve peace in the

region, there is a larger "window of danger" that the peace effort

will fail.

Holbrooke noted that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Croatian

President Franjo Tudjman, and Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic have

all "accepted" the five-nation Contact Group's map as "the starting

point for negotiations."

However the Bosnian Serbs have demanded 64 percent of the land on the

map, he said.

Intensive consultations are underway, Holbrooke said, to exploit the

existing window of opportunity for progress in the peace process in

advance of his departure. He will travel to the region with a

"reconstituted team" of experts and negotiators in the wake of a

tragic accident in Bosnia on August 17 which killed three U.S.

officials whose contributions had been critically important to both

the peace effort and the evolving Partnership for Peace process.

The new members of the U.S. team of negotiators are: Roberts Owen,

senior adviser to Secretary of State Christopher on the former

Yugoslavia; Brigadier General Donald Kerrick, director of the Defense

Department's National Military Intelligence Center; James Pardew,

director of the Secretary of Defense's Balkan Task Force; and

Christopher Hill, office director of the State Department's

South-Central European Affairs Section.

The team will meet first in France with members of the Contact Group;

representatives from Spain, Canada, Italy; and Bosnian President

Izetbegovic. The mission will continue on to Belgrade around August


Holbrooke said the United States, contrary to some press reports, is

not supporting partitioning or secession in Bosnia. "We are not going

into this negotiation" to participate in the carving up of Bosnia, he


Citing key goals of the peace mission, he said:

-- Bosnia-Herzegovina should remain "a single,

internationally-recognized state.

-- There should be equal treatment for all ethnic groups "in all of

the countries."

-- The territorial integrity of Croatia, including eastern Slavonia,

should be maintained;

-- A regional economic reconstruction effort should be launched once a

peace settlement is achieved.

-- Humanitarian aid should continue to be provided to help people


Holbrooke acknowledged that the peace mission is "an uphill struggle,"

but he stressed the U.S. commitment to it. The "major obstacle" to

peace remains the Bosnian Serbs, he added.

Time is of the essence, he explained, because of the "tremendous

growth" in the level of violence across-the-board and the coming

winter weather which would impede any efforts to withdraw U.N.

peacekeepers from the region.

State Department acting spokesman John Dinger told reporters that as a

result of conflict in Gorazde "several Bosnian government forces were

killed." Holbrooke described the situation there as "somewhat murky,"

indicating that no one wants to see U.N. peacekeepers "firing on and

killing Bosnian soldiers."

On the subject of the war crimes tribunal, Holbrooke made a point of

saying that that process is separate and not affected by the peace

negotiations. He made it clear that a war crime of "historic

proportions" against humanity occurred this summer when the safe haven

of Srebrenica was overtaken.

Holbrooke stressed that the rights of all three ethnic groups in

Bosnia "should be respected," also noting that a distinction must be

made between expulsions and "mass exterminations."

In Srebrenica, Holbrooke said, an undetermined number of people -- in

the thousands -- "were massacred deliberately." The international

community, he said, must distinguish between "bad things and really

bad things: between acts which are a horrible consequence of war...and

war crimes against humanity."

Asked about the effect of congressional legislation calling for the

U.S. unilateral lifting of the Bosnian arms embargo, Holbrooke

stressed that it would "absolutely undermine whatever chance we have

for successful negotiations" and is "deleterious to the cause of


He also noted that he is trying to "work out" a trip to Athens for

consultations with Greek officials. He had been scheduled to travel to

Crete earlier in the month, but the plans were disrupted due to the

deaths of the U.S. diplomats in Bosnia.