SARAJEVO (Reuters) – The United States on Friday called on rival ethnic Bosnian leaders to set aside divisive rhetoric that threatens the country’s shaky economy and future, saying Washington was ready to impose more sanctions on those which interfere with stability.

“Talking about war makes it incredibly difficult…to attract investment from the international community…and to build a strong, sustainable economy that creates jobs,” said Samantha Power, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for Development internationally (USAID). , said at a press conference in Sarajevo.

Bosnia’s political crisis, the country’s worst since the 1992-95 war, erupted after Bosnian Serbs blocked decision-making in national institutions and initiated a process of withdrawal of armed forces, tax system and the state judicial system.

“The United States is watching and is very, very concerned about the political crisis, the political blockade and the filibuster that has occurred,” Power said.

She is the first US official to visit Bosnia after the United States earlier this month imposed new sanctions on Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, accusing him of corruption and threatening the stability and territorial integrity of the country. Bosnia.

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Power called on Bosnian politicians to set aside divisive rhetoric that calls into question the sustainability of 26 years of peace.

“President Dodik has particularly created a climate of tension, which is vulnerable to miscalculations and the risk of escalation,” she said. Dodik is the Serbian member of the country’s tripartite presidency.

Power said removing the Republika Srpska from national institutions, as Dodik threatened to do, would only hurt the region economically.

The 1995 US-brokered Dayton Peace Accord ended the Bosnian war, dividing the country into two highly autonomous regions, the Serbian Republic dominated by Orthodox Serbs and a Federation dominated by Catholic Croats and Bosnian Muslims. The two regions are linked by a weak central government.

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

Power said the United States was considering more sanctions against officials involved in acts of corruption and destabilizing the country. USAID has invested around $2 billion in Bosnia since the end of its war.

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Paul Simao)

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