Some Serbian papers suggest the former Bosnian Serb wartime general is under arrest or being talked into surrender. But Belgrade has rejected reports of his capture, and it is also denied by The Hague tribunal, which has charged Gen Mladic with war crimes in Bosnia.
Nonetheless, BBC correspondents say some form of talks may be under way. European Union Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn is due to present a report early next week to EU foreign ministers on whether Serbia is co-operating with the tribunal. The EU warned Serbia last month that moves towards membership could be halted if Belgrade does not hand over Gen Mladic.
He has been indicted over the siege of Sarajevo, which claimed at least 10,000 lives, and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which at least 7,500 Muslim men and boys were killed. It was the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.
The fugitive has been on the run since 1995. Belgrade's Studio B TV reported on Tuesday that he had been located near Bosnia's Serbian border. A government spokesman, Srdjan Djuric, dismissed the reports, saying such speculation detracted from Belgrade's efforts "to fully complete its co-operation with The Hague".
But Serb dailies Glas Javnosti and Blic and the Bosnian Serb newspaper Nezavisne Novine reported on Wednesday that Gen Mladic was at a secure location discussing conditions for his surrender with the government.
The largest-circulation newspaper, Vecernje Novosti, reported only that the net was tightening around him and political preparations for his surrender were complete. Another daily, the Politika, said an operation to capture Gen Mladic was under way, but did not report an outcome.
The EU and The Hague tribunal said they had no information about the reported arrest. But the tribunal spokeswoman repeated assertions made by Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte that Gen Mladic was in Serbia and "in the immediate reach of the authorities".
"We have said for the last 10 days that the arrest could take place very quickly," Florence Hartmann said, quoted by the Associated Press. A member of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee told the BBC the reports about Gen Mladic were significant. Edward McMillan-Scott said progress in talks between the EU and Serbia depended on the handover of Gen Mladic and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was in the Balkans last week, the MEP said. "It may well be that there's a connection between these two reports - and that the Serbs are now ready to hand over the lesser of the two evils, Ratko Mladic," he said.Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16