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Biden: Bosnia's Ethnic Tension Will Bring Poverty, Bloodshed

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has told Bosnian politicians that they face poverty and bloodshed unless they put a stop to nationalist rhetoric and ethnic tensions.

Biden spoke bluntly Tuesday to the parliament in Sarajevo, the first stop of a three-day Balkan visit. He said Bosnia-Herzegovina is off the path toward European integration and a secure and prosperous future.

He said the country's split between Serbs, Croats and Muslims brings distrust and deadlock in reform efforts. Biden said this must stop or Bosnia will slide back into poverty and the ethnic chaos of the 1990s.

The 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in the Balkans split Bosnia into a Serb Republic and a Muslim-Croat federation, each with its own government.

The country does have a three-man collective presidency. But the central government is too weak to push through reforms needed for membership in the European Union and NATO.

Biden visits Serbia Wednesday and newly independent Kosovo Thursday. The White House said Biden plans to say that he does not expect Serbia to recognize Kosovo's independence, but that the United States does expect it to cooperate with the European Union in improving the quality of life in Kosovo.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.