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Bosnia's Independence Is Crumbling Under War

AS the world prepares to tackle the Yugoslav crisis at a peace conference in London Aug. 26, Western diplomats and United Nations aid officials say Bosnia's plight appears beyond reversal.

Outside military intervention, the strategy on which Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic counted to save the independence of his country, has been repeatedly ruled out by Western leaders. Rebel Serbs and Bosnian Croats between them now control almost all Bosnia's territory. Muslims, who make up 44 per cent of the 4.3 million population, control only the center of Sarajevo and a handful of towns surrounded by hostile Serbs.

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When the London conference - grouping international organizations like the United Nations and the European Community and world powers - looks at the new map of Bosnia, it will find 70 percent of the country in Serb hands. Radovan Karadzcic, president of the self-proclaimed Serbian Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, says only a tiny fraction of this is negotiable.

British Foreign Office minister Douglas Hogg, in Yugoslavia recently to prepare the London conference, said: "We need to make it absolutely plain to the Serbs that they will not be allowed to retain the land they grabbed and that their policies are a disgrace."

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