Serbs Agree to Cease-Fire Starting Today

From Associated Press

U.N. and Bosnian Serb generals on Friday declared a cease-fire in Bosnia beginning today, but Serbs still refused to accept a peace plan to end a year of ethnic war.

The U.S. Navy, meanwhile, said an American observation plane assigned to monitor U.S. relief drops in Bosnia crashed in the Ionian Sea, and all five crew members were missing. There was no hostile fire before the plane went down Thursday night, the Navy said.

The 2C Hawkeye was based on the carrier Theodore Roosevelt, which is south of the Straits of Otranto as part of 6th Fleet operations in support of the air drop.

U.N. Gen. Lars Eric Wahlgren of Sweden announced the cease-fire, set for noon today, after more than five hours of meetings with the Bosnian Serb commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic.

Mladic told reporters: "The truce will go into force if the two other warring sides accept it. The Serbian side will strictly respect it."

Dozens of previous cease-fires have collapsed, partly because military commanders have trouble controlling their troops. Government, military and aid officials greeted the announcement warily.

It appeared Bosnia's Croats and Muslims had not been consulted about the truce. Bosnia's defense minister, Bozo Rajic, a Croat, said he had not been told of the truce in advance and had no faith it would work.

"Reasonable people have stopped counting cease-fires and believing in them," Rajic said.

The announcement came a day after Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic signed a U.N. peace plan that would divide the republic into 10 semi-autonomous provinces. That left Serbs the only holdout among Bosnia's factions, and increased international pressure on them.

The Muslim-led Bosnian government said at least 134,000 people are dead or missing in the war, which erupted after Bosnia's Croats and Muslims voted for independence from the old Yugoslav federation, which is dominated by Serbia.

Serbs have captured 70% of Bosnia, and millions of people have lost their homes.

The peace plan would give the Serbs 43% of Bosnia, which they say would be unfair.

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