December 13, 1995
Web posted at: 2:00 p.m. EST (1900 GMT)
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNN) -- Weather conditions made it slow-going Wednesday for troops setting up for the NATO peacekeeping operation in the Balkans.
Sarajevo was in a state of emergency because of heavy snow. The airport was closed, delaying flights of NATO troops and equipment.
Snow and fog also forced the cancellation of some NATO flights into Tuzla, where U.S. troops are headquartered. Weather conditions were bad as well in Hungary, site of the U.S. staging base.
Meanwhile, a day before the signing of the Dayton peace accord in Paris, France said that Serbia and Croatia are close to an agreement on mutual recognition. The peace accord calls for mutual recognition only between Bosnia and Serbia.
"We are working on this subject, which is very difficult, but I think that between the main countries of the former Yugoslavia the recognitions will be obtained today, tomorrow or in the future days," said French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette.
Mutual recognition is viewed as central for the region's long-term stability, because it could help prevent any new expansionist wars.
The agreement was being discussed as representatives from the former Yugoslav republics met with foreign ministers from the United States, Canada, several European countries and the Organization of the Islamic Conference outside Paris Wednesday.
International mediators in Paris also were said to be discussing the protection of Serb neighborhoods in Sarajevo.
Serbs in Sarajevo voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to reject the peace plan, which turns Serb-held areas over to a Muslim-led government. But that vote is not likely to change the agreement.
There is concern over a massive Serb exodus from the city or new fighting. Sources close to the Paris talks said Presidents Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia and Alija Izetbegovic of Bosnia held an unannounced meeting to discuss a compromise that would allow only NATO forces -- no government troops -- into the Serb-held areas of the city while Serb forces withdraw.
President Clinton, Milosevic, Izetbegovic and Franjo Tudjman of Croatia, along with other world leaders, will attend Thursday's signing ceremony.
Meanwhile, there are questions surrounding possible conditions attached to the release of two French pilots Tuesday.
Bosnia's foreign minister, Mohamed Sacirbey, said Wednesday he was disturbed by reports that war crime indictments against rebel Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and army chief Ratko Mladic might be frozen as part of a deal the pilots' release.
France's Defense Minister Charles Millon said no bargain was brokered to win the release of Capt. Frederic Chiffot and Lt. Jose Souvignet, whose aircraft was shot down during NATO air raids on August 30.
Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev was quoted last weekend as saying charges against Karadzic and Mladic should be reconsidered.
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