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EU hopes for progress soon in Belgrade-Pristina talks


The European Union hopes for rapid progress in ongoing talks between Serbia and Kosovo aimed at easing tensions between the two, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele said on Monday.

"We are looking eagerly in the coming weeks to see progress in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, particularly on the sensitive issue of the north of Kosovo," Fuele told reporters after meeting top officials here prior to a crucial round of talks due on Wednesday in Brussels.

At the meeting to be hosted by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and his Kosovo counterpart Hashim Thaci will try to find a solution for the area's 40,000-strong Serb minority which refuses to recognise Pristina's authority in the north.

Both Belgrade and Kosovo Serbs refuse to accept Kosovo's 2008 independence which Pristina declared unilaterally although more than 90 countries, including most EU member states and the United States, have recognised it.

Improved relations and concrete progress in the EU-backed dialogue between the neighbours are key Brussels conditions for Serbia to be given a date to start EU accession talks and for Kosovo to win visa-free access to EU nations.

Fuele was to visit Kosovo on Tuesday and talk to the political leadership there on the EU integration process and progress in the talks with Belgrade.