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Serbs pledge to withdraw planes from Bosnia

After being warned that Western aircraft would attack to enforce a U.N. "no-fly zone," the leader of Bosnia's Serbs has agreed to move his warplanes out of the republic and put them under U.N. supervision in Serbia.

Radovan Karadzic said Wednesday that the transfer of the aircraft, which for months have been bombing Muslim-controlled towns in Bosnia, will occur "within days." The Serb side is the only party in the Bosnian war with military planes.

Speaking in Geneva, where he is attending U.N.-brokered peace talks, Karadzic attempted to portray his offer as a unilateral one intended "to contribute to peace."

But the Serb pledge followed a blunt warning from the United Nations, according to Lord Owen, an international mediator at the talks. He said Karadzic had been informed that if violations of the U.N. flight ban continued, Bosnian Serb aircraft would be "taken out" by Western air strikes.

The State Department said Bosnian Serb aircraft violated the no-fly order Saturday, one day after the U.N. Security Council imposed it.

A Western diplomat warned here Wednesday that Karadzic's promise cannot be accepted at face value. "Let's just see if it happens. We do not have any shortages of peace promises," the diplomat said.