The United States has welcomed the Macedonian peace accord and called on both the government and the ethnic Albanian minority to follow through.

The signing of the peace agreement is good news for the United States and its European allies, who worked to stop the violence and head off a wider Balkan war.

At his ranch in Texas, President Bush called the deal a "good sign," and urged the government and ethnic Albanian gunmen to lay down their arms so the pact can take effect. State Department spokesman Philip Reeker sharply criticized the Albanians who launched heavy attacks this past weekend. "We utterly condemn the recent attacks by extremists," Mr. Reeker said. "There is absolutely no justification and no excuse for this type of action by the armed extremists in Macedonia. We urge the government forces to act with restraint. It's important now that the government open the way to reconciliation by offering an amnesty."

The accord recognizes Albanian as an official language in some regions of Macedonia and calls for more ethnic Albanians to be part of the national police force. It also clears the way for 35,000 NATO troops to move in and disarm the gunmen. However, the alliance warns it will not act unless the cease-fire holds.