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news 30 Oct 12

Clinton, Ashton Urge Serbia to Continue Kosovo Talks

The US and EU diplomacy chiefs have urged Serbia to continue talks with Kosovo in order to realise its European destiny.

Bojana Barlovac BIRN Belgrade
Ashton, Clinton, Nikolic and Dacic. Photo by Beta

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security, Catherine Ashton, said after meetings with Serbian leaders on Tuesday that they did not come to pose ultimatums but to support Serbia on its EU path.

"That's why we strongly support the dialogue," Clinton told reporters referring to the EU-mediated Belgrade-Pristina talks in Brussels.

Ashton said that the future of Serbia lay within the EU, and talks with Serbian leaders were focused on Serbia's future moves in order to achieve that goal.

Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said after the meeting that Belgrade was ready to reach a deal with Kosovo but will not recognize the former province's independence, proclaimed in 2008.

"The government has taken the responsibility to implement the agreements [with Kosovo] that the previous government reached, and will continue the talks," Dacic said on Tuesday.

The EU-mediated talks, aimed at normalising relations between Kosovo and Serbia, started last March.

So far, the two sides have reached deals on freedom of movement, university diplomas and regional representation. However, not all the deals have been implemented.

Some 4,000 Serbian policemen and a number of US FBI police provided security in the Serbian capital ahead of Clintin's visit.

The opposition nationalist Serbian Radical Party staged a peaceful protest against the visit in front of the Serbian Presidency building on Tuesday.

On Monday evening, right-wingers staged a protest in the city centre, waving Serbian flags. Nationalists still strongly resent America's crucial military and diplomatic support for Kosovo's independence.

Clinton's husband, Bill, was US President during NATO's air war against Serbia in 1999, which forced Serbia to relinquish de facto control of the then province.

Clinton and Ashton come to Belgrade after visiting Sarajevo, Bosnia. The pair are travelling on to Kosovo, Albania and Croatia.

Clinton last visited the Balkans in 2010.

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