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German chosen to lead powerful international body in Bosnia

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — A German diplomat was chosen Thursday to head a powerful international body in Bosnia that oversees implementation of a 1995 peace agreement that ended a devastating war in the Balkan country.

The Office of High Representative said in a statement that its new leader is Christian Schmidt, a former German lawmaker. It added that Russia did not agree with the decision.

No other details were immediately available. Both Moscow and the Serbs in Bosnia in the past have demanded that the Office of High Representative be abolished and its wide-reaching authority in Bosnia ended.

The US-brokered peace deal, that ended the 1992-95 war after more than 100,000 people died, established an entity run by Bosnia’s Serbs and another one dominated by the country’s Bosniaks, who are mostly Muslims, and Croats.

Bosnia still remains ethnically divided. This has blocked the country’s path toward reconciliation and economic recovery. Russia has backed a Bosnian Serb bid to assume as much independence as possible.

Schmidt formally will take over on August 1 from Austrian diplomat Valentin Inzko who has held the post for the past 12 years. The new appointment is to be confirmed at the U.N. Security Council.

The Associated Press