U.S. and EU Officials Will Meet With Bosnian Leaders

European and U.S. officials will meet with Bosnian leaders next week on how to break a political deadlock in the Balkan country, officials said Friday.

An EU statement said Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg convened the meeting in Sarajevo Oct. 9 "to stimulate political dialogue."

After an ethnic war between 1992 and 1995, Bosnia has been divided into a Serb Republic and a Bosniak-Croat Federation, linked by common institutions. Officials in the Serb Republic generally seek more autonomy and oppose closer integration of institutions. Bosnian Serbs often feel solidarity with Serbia.

Most of Bosnia's problems stem from its constitution, which almost everybody agrees should be changed. But the opposing sides cannot agree how.

U.S. Ambassador Charles English said the EU and the U.S. will present a "proposal for a comprehensive approach to address many outstanding issues" currently dividing Bosnia's leaders.

The EU and the U.S. seem to be united over a joint proposal they were working on since U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana visited Bosnia in May.

For some time, the international community has been worried by the political stalemate in Bosnia. The country has not been able to catch up with others in the region seeking to join the EU and NATO.

"In order to move Bosnia ahead, political leaders here will have to compromise ... Everyone will have to swallow things they perhaps will not like," Lars Wahlund, an official of the Swedish Foreign Ministry, told reporters in Sarajevo.

An eventual agreement would open up an application for EU and NATO membership and a liberalization of the strict EU visa requirements for Bosnian citizens, he said.