"We have reached a new deal that extends the ceasefire indefinitely and secures an agreement on several new points," said Hashim al-Hasani of the Iraq Islamic Party, a mediator in talks between the Iraqis and the occupation.

  

The deal includes a ban on carrying weapons as of Tuesday and the start of joint patrols of Iraqi police and Iraqi Civil Defence Corps forces and occupation troops in the city on the same day, al-Hasani said on Sunday.

 

He said the deal called for "continuing the gathering of heavy weapons" from fighters and allowing families to return to Falluja and facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid.

 

Return

  

The Sunni Iraq Islamic Party is represented on the US-appointed Governing Council.

  

A senior occupation official on Friday night confirmed that only 67 families would be allowed to return to Falluja on Sunday.

  

The New York Times on Sunday reported that US President George Bush and his senior national security and military advisers were expected to decide this weekend whether to order an invasion of Falluja.

  

The paper also reported that US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld had expressed strong doubts that the Falluja political and business figures the Americans were talking to would hold any sway over the fighters.