The Associated Press
DAYTON, Ohio Ÿ Under U.S. prodding, Balkan leaders agreed yesterday to end 3 1/2 years of savage fighting and carve Bosnia into two ethnic zones. President Clinton renewed his pledge to send 20,000 U.S. peacekeepers to the former Yugoslav republic despite congressional opposition.
The dramatic agreement, which remained elusive up to the last moment, came after 21 days of hard bargaining among the leaders of Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
''The people of Bosnia finally have a chance to turn from the horror of war to the promise of peace,'' Clinton declared in a Rose Garden announcement of the accord Ÿ potentially a major foreign policy success for the administration.
The three Balkan presidents initialed the pact yesterday afternoon in a ceremony at Wright-Patterson and shook hands stiffly. A formal agreement ending the ethnic bloodletting that has claimed a quarter-million lives is to be signed next month in Paris.
The agreement provides for Bosnia's division into two entities, a Muslim-Croat federation that will control 51 percent of the territory, and a Serb republic that will hold the remaining 49 percent. It calls for a central government with a democratically elected president and parliament and bars indicted war criminals from holding military or elected office.
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