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EU, U.S. Diplomats Seek To Ease Bosnia Tensions

European Union and U.S. diplomats are expected to meet on October 9 with politicians in Bosnia-Herzegovina in a bid to help ease rising political tensions and move the ethnically divided country closer to reforms and eventual membership in the European Union and NATO.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, and U.S. Deputy Secretary Of State Jim Steinberg are due to meet with leaders from Bosnia's Serbian, Muslim, and Croatian communities at an EU military peacekeeping base near Sarajevo airport.

Tensions among the three rival communities have been rising ahead of national elections due in about one year.

Reports say the EU and U.S. envoys are expected to present proposals aimed at fulfilling the conditions for the closure of the Office Of The High Representative -- through which international officials still have the ultimate power in Bosnia. They are also expected to propose moves toward constitutional changes aimed at increasing the efficiency of Bosnia's government and moving the country closer to EU and NATO membership.

The country was divided into a Serb Republic and a Bosniak-Croat Federation after the end of the country's 1992-1995 war. The two entities are linked by weak central institutions.

compiled from agency reports