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Top US, EU envoys visit Kosovo to promote talks with Serbia

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) – Senior officials from the US and the European Union visited Kosovo on Monday to urge the tiny western Balkans country to resume talks on normalizing relations with its former war enemy Serbia.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Palmer began a three-day visit with a meeting with the party leaders of the Democratic League of Kosovo.

The EU envoy for the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Miroslav Lajcak, had already arrived in Pristina on a two-day visit to meet with the country’s leaders.

Kosovo’s new government, led by Prime Minister Albin Kurti, who took office 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 EU to normalize relations between Serbia and its former province began a decade ago and stalled last year.

Lajcak and Palmer met in Brussels last week to discuss the Western Balkans and the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. There will be a joint press conference on Tuesday.

Both Washington and Brussels have made it clear that the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo is essential for their further integration into the Euro-Atlantic institutions. Serbia and Kosovo both applied for EU membership one day, and Kosovo is also seeking NATO membership.

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

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

The Associated Press

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