Bosnia's president said Tuesday he would agree to an immediate, four-month nationwide cease-fire, which Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic said could begin as early as Friday.

Former President Jimmy Carter helped mediate the cease-fire in two days of shuttling back and forth between the headquarters of the Muslim-led government in Sarajevo and the rebel Serbs' stronghold in Pale, nine miles down the road."We don't want another Cyprus or another Korea, so we've tried to get the parties to agree on a cease-fire for the cessation of hostilities and we've negotiated with the Bosnian Serbs to get four months," Carter told Associated Press Television on Tuesday.

Carter mentioned a possible hitch, however, saying the Serbs wanted a signed agreement by Jan. 1 with the Bosnian government on a permanent end to fighting. Though he did not say so, it appeared the Serbs would resume fighting if no agreement beyond a temporary cease-fire was reached by then.

The Bosnian government has opposed a permanent truce nationwide because it would freeze military gains by the Serbs, who have captured 70 percent of Bosnia since the war broke out in April 1992. An estimated 200,000 people are dead or missing in the conflict.

The temporary cease-fire appeared in limbo earlier Tuesday when Karadzic told the Cable News Network that the Serbs would not stop fighting until they had an agreement on a permanent cease-fire.

Carter said that besides the four-month cease-fire, the new agreement also committed the Serbs to a return to peace talks, deployment of U.N. peacekeepers between combatants, and exchange of prisoners. Copies of the agreement were not distributed to the press.

Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic said he would rekindle aborted peace talks with Bosnian Serbs if they accepted "the Contact Group plan as a starting point."