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Serbia and Bosnia Open Links Between Their Countries

Belgrade, July 24 (RFE/RL) -- Serbia and Bosnia agreed today to restore telephone, railway, bus and air links between the two countries. It is the first such agreement since the Bosnian war erupted four years ago.

"This is a new chapter between the two countries," Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic said in Belgrade.

Ganic hailed the agreements signed by Bosnian and Serbian ministers as the beginning of a reconciliation process between the wartime foes.

The accords came at the end of a two-day trade mission by Bosnian officials and businessmen who flew to Serbia yesterday.

Both sides said the visit showed the peace process was moving forward since Balkan leaders signed the Dayton peace agreement, which ended fighting in Bosnia last November.

Jadranko Prlic, foreign minister for Bosnia's Muslim-Croat Federation, said the two governments also agreed that civilians crossing the Bosnia-Serbia border would no longer require visas or special permission.

Prlic and his counterpart, Milan Milutinovic, signed a protocol in which citizens of Bosnia and Yugoslavia should be able to cross with their passport without other formalities.

Ganic, who also met Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, said he expects this week's visit to clear the way for regular meetings and normal relations between Belgrade and the Muslim-led government in Sarajevo.

Ganic and other Bosnian government leaders condemned Milosevic throughout the 43-month war for his support of separatist Serb forces who laid siege to Sarajevo and fought Bosnia's bid for independence.

But Ganic, a prominent member of Bosnia's ruling Muslim nationalist Party of Democratic Action, said it was time to build prosperity and leave the bloody war behind.