President Clinton said Tuesday that lifting the arms embargo against embattled Muslims in Bosnia may be the only way to bring a permanent end to civil war in ex-Yugoslavia.
He also defended his decision to send 300 U.S. troops to Macedonia as part of a U.N. effort to keep the civil war from spreading, saying at a news conference that the move "carries minimum risk and maximum gain."
Five members of a U.S. European Command advance team are leaving Thursday to prepare for the U.S. peacekeeping deployment in Macedonia.
Clinton said that the option of lifting the arms embargo was still on the table even though Russia, France and Britain had rejected his earlier proposal to do so.
"I still think it may be the only way to get them to move to real meaningful cease-fire . . . real meaningful peace talks," Clinton said of the war among Serbs, Muslims and Croats in the former Yugoslavia.
Bosnian pleads for action: In Vienna, a Bosnian rose Tuesday in a dramatic challenge to the credibility of the U.N. World Conference on Human Rights. He demanded immediate action to end the slaughter in the shelled Muslim enclave of Gorazde.
Bosnian Foreign Minister Haris Silajdzic brought scheduled proceedings to a standstill with a stinging rebuke to the nations of the world and an emotional appeal for help to stop "genocide" in the town besieged by Serbs.
"Bosnia-Herzegovina is everything human rights is not," Silajdzic said. He called it a "bloodstain" on the conscience of the international community.
"Let us demand on behalf of the participants, on behalf of humanity, because this is a crime against humanity . . . to take all measures . . . to stop the genocide in at least one town, Gorazde," he said.
The conference chamber of over 160 state delegations listened in silence then rose in a standing ovation.
Silajdzic said the killing in Bosnia had gone on for almost 15 months with almost no action on the part of the international community. "So how can we talk about human rights? Where are the human rights? Where is the political will?"
Truce due to start Friday: In Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, the military chiefs of Bosnia's three warring factions met face-to-face for the first time Tuesday and signed a new cease-fire agreement covering the entire republic.
But skepticism remained high because previous truces have quickly collapsed, and fighting was reported across Bosnia. Still, with the top commanders signing, the pact appeared to be the most serious of four attempts to implement countrywide cease-fires in the 15-month war.
The truce was not scheduled to go into effect until noon Friday.
Even as the generals ended their meeting at Sarajevo's airport, ham radio reports from the Muslim enclave of Gorazde in eastern Bosnia said the town was being heavily shelled by besieging Serbs for a 19th day.