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Bosnian leaders should 'urgently' overcome differencies: EU

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(SARAJEVO) - Bosnia's political leaders should "urgently" overcome their disputes and form a new government, EU diplomacy chief Catherine Ashton warned on Tuesday, five months after elections.

"Bosnia and Herzegovina's leadership needs urgently to overcome their differences. A solution, which respects the priorities of all sides concerned, is within reach," Ashton said in a statement sent to AFP by EU delegation office in Sarajevo.

The statement, signed also by the Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele, said the European Union was "deeply concerned about the continued lack of progress in the government formation in Bosnia."

Since the end of the 1992-1995 inter-ethnic war in Bosnia the country has been divided into two semi-independent entities -- the Muslim-Croat Federation and the Serb-run Republika Srpska (RS) -- which are linked by weak central institutions.

So far, only the RS has formed institutions since the October elections, while Muslims and Croats have failed to reach any agreement, blocking the formation of the central government.

Parties in Sarajevo have so far failed to find a compromise on the sharing out of ministerial posts between the Muslim-Croat entity and the central government, tasked with reforms needed for Bosnia's progress towards integration in the European Union.

Ashton and Fuele warned that Bosnia "cannot afford to lose more time."

"The political leaders must urgently address EU-related reforms as a matter of priority if the country is to take steps forward on its European integration path," the statement said.

In a search for compromise, the leaders of the four main parties in the Muslim-Croat entity were holding talks Tuesday with the top international diplomat in Bosnia, Valentin Inzko of the Office of the High Representative.

Inzko's new initiative is supported by the United States, which Tuesday voiced "deep concern" over the political deadlock in Bosnia.

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