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Bosnia Celebrates Reopening Of Mostar Bridge

Mostar's just finished Old Bridge 23 July 2004 -- Bosnia-Herzegovina is celebrating the reopening of the Stari Most, or Old Bridge, in the city of Mostar, a cultural monument that was destroyed during Bosnia's 1992-1995 war.

Presidents and prime ministers from the Balkans, Britain's Prince Charles, EU, and UN officials are attending the ceremonies surrounding the reconstructed bridge.

The UNESCO-protected bridge across the Neretva River was built in 1566 during the Ottoman Empire. It was destroyed by Bosnian Croat tank fire in 1993 during fighting between Croats and Muslims.

It was rebuilt using the original stones and some new ones at a cost of some $15 million, largely provided by international donors.

Bosnia's top international official, Paddy Ashdown, said the reopening of the bridge is an important step towards reestablishing what he called "multiconfessional, multinational coexistence" in Bosnia-Herzegovina.