Bosnian factions extend ceasefire

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The Independent Online
SARAJEVO (Reuter) - A much-abused truce was renewed in Bosnia yesterday by the warring parties, who dragged the issues of 'ethnic cleansing', prisoner releases and freedom of movement into the deal, said the United Nations envoy, Yasushi Akashi. He said the factions gave verbal commitments to the extension rather than signing an agreement, as they did in Geneva on 8 June, when the first truce was agreed.

'I have been brought up in a culture where a verbal agreement is just as weighty as a signed agreement,' the Japanese diplomat said. 'Sometimes words count for more than a piece of paper.' Neither has counted for much in Bosnia during 27 months of war, with the 8 June truce a case in point. Muslim and Croat-backed government troops launched an offensive in the northern part of the country. Bosnian Serb snipers harassed civilians in Sarajevo, and they killed a British UN soldier in Gorazde two weeks ago.

Mr Akashi has been eager to get the truce extended as a bridge to the international peace plan, delivered to Bosnia's warring parties in Geneva last week.