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Bosnia presidents ask PM to reconsider resignation

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SARAJEVO, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Bosnia's three-man presidency said on Friday it would try to talk Prime Minister Nikola Spiric out of resigning to avert a crisis that would entail months of negotiations between the country's rival ethnic groups.

Spiric, an ethnic Serb, resigned on Thursday to protest against external "meddling", saying a recent measure by international peace envoy Miroslav Lajcak infringed on the autonomy the Bosnian Serbs obtained at the end of Bosnia's 1992-95 war.

"Our wish is not to complicate the situation, that is why we want to talk to him," presidency chairman Zeljko Komsic, an ethnic Croat, told a news conference.

Komsic said the presidency could not dismiss Spiric's resignation but was hoping he would reconsider.

"It's up to him to decide on the next step," Komsic said.

He said there was no deadline for the consultations. Spiric was not immediately available for comment.

Unless he withdraws his resignation, Spiric will remain caretaker prime minister while the three ethnic groups -- Bosnian Serbs, Croats and Muslims -- try to find a compromise candidate for prime minister.

The presidency has 30 days to nominate a prime minister-designate, who then has to propose a cabinet and win parliament approval.

If no deal can be reached, the country must hold a parliamentary election, further delaying reforms that the European Union says are needed for Bosnia to progress towards membership.

Political analyst Ivan Barbalic said Spiric's resignation was a "political gesture" aimed at provoking Lajcak and warned that the country could enter a long period of tension.

"It is unlikely that the current parliamentary majority will agree on a new PM-designate, particularly if Serb MPs walk out of parliament as they have threatened," Barbalic said.

In the meantime, the caretaker cabinet would not have the capacity to work on Bosnia's checklist of reforms for concluding the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, the first step to eventual EU accession. (Additional reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic)

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