U.S. stands with Bosnia in crisis times - U.S. top official

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SARAJEVO (Reuters) - The United States stands with Bosnia-Herzegovina at this time of crisis just as it has during and after the Balkan country's war in the 1990s, and will act against those who threaten its stability, a U.S. top diplomat said on Thursday.

Bosnia has been going through its worst political crisis https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/what-is-causing-political-crisis-bosnia-2021-11-03 since its 1992-1995 war after the Bosnian Serbs blocked decision making in national institutions and launched a process to withdraw from the state armed forces, tax system and judiciary.

"The United States stood with the people of this country during the war. ... We have stood with the people of this country for the last 26 years, and we stand with you now," said Samantha Power, the visiting administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Power is the first U.S. official to visit Bosnia after the United States earlier this month slapped fresh sanctions on Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, accusing him of corruption and threatening Bosnia's stability and territorial integrity.

The U.S.-brokered Dayton peace agreement ended the Bosnian war, which claimed 100,000 lives. It split the country into two highly autonomous regions, the Orthodox Serb-dominated Serb Republic and the Federation dominated by Catholic Croats and Muslim Bosniaks. The two regions are linked via a weak central government.

Dodik has long advocated the secession of the Serb Republic and its eventual unification with Serbia, the wartime patron of Bosnian Serbs.

Power said she would talk on Friday with the Bosnian tripartite presidency, of which Dodik is a Serb member, about the current political impasse.

"It is extremely important that every individual recognises that stoking the fires of division is dangerous," she told reporters in Sarajevo. "It is clear that the threats to withdraw from the state institutions threaten the stability that was created 26 years ago through the Dayton peace agreement."

Commenting on the sanctions, Power said the United States and its European friends were dedicated to "the cause of accountability."

"We will not hesitate to act against those who pursue corruption, de-stabilisation and division at the expense of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina," she said.

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Mark Porter)

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