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Biden urges to Kosovo continue ‘essential’ talks with Serbia

PRISTINA, Kosovo – US President Joe Biden has urged the Kosovo government to continue dialogue on normalizing relations with neighboring Serbia, stating that any agreement between the two former enemies “should focus on mutual recognition”.

Biden sent a letter to the new President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, whose office released the notice on Tuesday. In it, he said Washington will “continue to support efforts for lasting peace through a productive dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia and ultimately a comprehensive normalization agreement that we believe should be based on mutual recognition”.

Biden described the normalization of relations with Serbia as “essential for Kosovo to realize its potential and to fully integrate into the Euro-Atlantic institutions”.

“I know that achieving this goal will require flexibility and difficult compromises, and the United States will be your partner every step of the way,” wrote the US President.

The government, which took office in Kosovo in March, has said it is focused on fighting the pandemic and that talks with Serbia are not high on the list of immediate objectives.

The negotiations facilitated by the European Union to normalize relations between Serbia and its former province began a decade ago and stalled last year.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a decade after a brutal war between separatist ethnic Albanian rebels and Serbian forces between 1998 and 1999. The war ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign that displaced Serbian troops and a peacekeeping force moved in .

Most Western nations have recognized Kosovo’s sovereignty, but Serbia and its allies Russia and China have not. Tensions over Kosovo remain a source of volatility in the Balkans.

In his letter to Osmani, Biden mentioned his family’s “personal connection” to Kosovo. The President’s late son, Beau, worked with the armed forces and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe after the war in Kosovo to strengthen the rule of law there.

When he was Vice President, Joe Biden and his family visited Kosovo in 2016 to attend a ceremony in which a street near a U.S. military base was named after his son, who died of brain cancer the previous year at the age of 46 was.

“My son Beau loved the time he spent in Kosovo promoting peace and the rule of law,” wrote Biden.

The Associated Press

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