SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ The U.S. envoy to the United Nations expressed hope Friday that the next Congress and administration not to not walk away ``from their obligations'' in the Balkans.

Richard Holbrooke, architect of the 1995 agreement that ended the Bosnian war, said during a lecture at Sarajevo University that America's role in bringing an end to ethnic conflicts throughout the Balkans ``proves that America is a European power whether people like it or not.''

``I am confident that the American people and the Congress of the next administration will not walk away from their obligations in this part of the world _ both to the people of this country and to our NATO allies,'' Holbrooke said.

The possibility of a withdrawal of American troops from Bosnia and nearby Kosovo has emerged as a major issue here because of Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush's interest in phasing out a U.S. role in peacekeeping.

Bush said on Oct. 11 that he would like to remove American troops from Bosnia and Kosovo, but added: ``I recognize we can't do it now, nor do I advocate an immediate withdrawal.''

Holbrooke was the main U.S. negotiator of the Dayton peace accord which ended this country's 3 1/2-year ethnic war. Some 60,000 troops were sent here to help keep the peace. The number has since been reduced to 20,000, including about 4,000 Americans.

He was in Bosnia after a visit to Kosovo and Macedonia, where he met with the new Yugoslav president, Vojislav Kostunica.

Earlier Friday, Holbrooke urged Bosnians to use the Nov. 11 parliamentary elections to implement democratic changes, as neighboring Croatia and Serbia have done this year.