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Macedonia: NATO Brokers New Cease-Fire


Skopje, 26 July 2001 (RFE/RL) -- NATO has persuaded the warring sides in Macedonia to agree to a new cease-fire aimed at helping restart peace talks. Reports say that under the deal, ethnic Albanian rebels have agreed to withdraw starting this morning from positions around the city of Tetovo, the site of fierce fighting with government forces in recent days.

The rebels will apparently be allowed to retreat to positions they held on 5 July, when the last cease-fire was agreed.

The deal, brokered by NATO envoy Pieter Feith, came after the Macedonian government threatened a major assault against the rebels.

Thousands of people have fled the area around Tetovo, fearing a major offensive.

NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, and OSCE Chairman Mircea Geoana are due to arrive in Skopje later today in a bid to restart negotiations on ethnic Albanian demands for improved rights. Nationalist Macedonians attacked Western embassies and offices in Skopje on 24 July, accusing Western officials of backing the ethnic Albanian rebels.

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