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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bosnia Will Accept Carter Truce Plan

SARAJEVO -- Bosnia's president said Tuesday he would agree to an immediate, four-month nationwide cease-fire, which Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic said could begin as early as Friday.


Former President Jimmy Carter helped mediate the cease-fire in two days of shuttling back and forth between the headquarters of the Muslim-led government in Sarajevo and the rebel Serbs' stronghold in Pale, 15 kilometers (10 miles) down the road.


"We don't want another Cyprus or another Korea, so we've tried to get the parties to agree on a cease-fire for the cessation of hostilities, and we've negotiated with the Bosnian Serbs to get four months," Carter told Associated Press Television today.


Carter mentioned a possible hitch, however, saying the Serbs wanted a signed agreement with the Bosnian government by Jan. 1 on a permanent end to fighting. Though he did not say so, it appeared the Serbs would resume fighting if no agreement beyond a temporary cease-fire was reached by then.


The Bosnian government has opposed a permanent truce nationwide because it would freeze military gains by the Serbs, who have captured 70 percent of Bosnia since the war broke out in April 1992. An estimated 200,000 people are dead or missing in the conflict.


The temporary cease-fire appeared in limbo earlier Tuesday when Karadzic told the Cable News Network that the Serbs would not stop fighting until they had an agreement on a permanent cease-fire.


Carter said that besides the four-month cease-fire, the new agreement also committed the Serbs to a return to peace talks, deployment of UN peacekeepers between combatants, and exchange of prisoners. Copies of the agreement were not distributed to the press.


Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic said he would rekindle aborted peace talks with Bosnian Serbs if they accepted "the Contact Group plan as a starting point."


That plan, devised by diplomats from Britain, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, would give Bosnia's Muslims and Croats 51 percent of the republic and cut Serb lands by one-third from what they now hold to 49 percent.


The Muslim-led government and Bosnian Croats have both agreed to the plan, but the Serbs have not, objecting to the plan's proposed maps and refusing to give up on their demands of confederation with their patron, Serbia.


In Moscow, Russian authorities also urged Bosnian Serbs to coordinate any peace initiative with mediation efforts by the Contact Group.


"Russia welcomes all steps of the Bosnian Serbs aimed at bringing peace to the region," Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigory Karasin told RIA news agency. "But they should stick to the decisions of the international contact group."


In an attempt to lure Serbs back to the peace talks, the Contact Group this month abandoned its opposition to union with Serbia and said the territorial divisions could be "adjusted by mutual arrangement."


Karadzic said Tuesday it was this revised plan that the Bosnian Serbs had agreed to discuss further. (AP, Reuters)