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Serbia-Kosovo meet inconclusive

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The bridge that divides:Italian and French policemen guard the main bridge that separates the ethnically divided northern Kosovo town of Mitrovica on Wednesday.— PHOTO: AP
The bridge that divides:Italian and French policemen guard the main bridge that separates the ethnically divided northern Kosovo town of Mitrovica on Wednesday.— PHOTO: AP

Serbia and Kosovo failed on Wednesday to find common ground on how to defuse longstanding tensions at European Union (EU)-sponsored talks, officials said.

Serb Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and his Kosovo counterpart Hashim Thaci will return home for consultations “and will let me know in the next few days of their decision”, said EU Foreign Affairs head Catherine Ashton after more than 12 hours of talks.

Sticking point

The sticking point has been the future of the Serb minority in Kosovo, especially the north, since Pristina declared independence in 2008. Majority ethnic Albanian Kosovo has since then won recognition from around 100 countries, including the U.S. and most EU member states.

Belgrade and Serbs living in Kosovo continue to reject Pristina’s independence, with the focus of the negotiations on the some 40,000 Serbs living in the north.

Both sides earlier agreed to establish an association of Serb municipalities but Pristina refuses to grant it the executive and judicial powers demanded by Belgrade.

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic on Monday said recent statements from Pristina were “not encouraging”.

Kosovo fears that a large degree of autonomy for the north runs the risk the area would eventually break away.

The international community “wants to avoid at all costs the creation of a ‘Serb Republic’ in the north of Kosovo”, said one source, referring to the Serb entity formed in Bosnia in 1992.Progress at the talks had been seen as essential to keeping the momentum going. . — AFP


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