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US urges Serbia, Kosovo to reach agreement at Brussels talks

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The United States on Monday urged Serbia and Kosovo to reach an agreement when the two former foes meet for a highly anticipated round of EU-sponsored talks.

The latest round of talks in Brussels on Tuesday is aimed at normalizing relations between Serbia and breakaway Kosovo, paving the way to eventual membership of the European Union.

Majority ethnic Albanian Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

The move has since been recognized by around 100 countries, including the United States and most EU member states, but it is fiercely rejected by Belgrade and the Serb minority living in Kosovo.

"We hope that the round tomorrow will be a successful one because we think it's important both for Kosovo and for Serbia to normalize their relations and move on from the legacy of the past and move forward both in democratic terms, in economic terms and on their path for European integration," US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday.

Nuland noted that the US had backed dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accompanying EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton during a visit to the region last year.

The Serbian and Kosovar Prime Ministers, Ivica Dacic and Hashim Thaci, are to meet in Brussels on Tuesday for an eighth and final round of EU-sponsored talks since October last year.

However, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic on Monday cast doubt on whether any agreement would be forthcoming at Tuesday's talks.

"Intractable statements from Pristina put us before a fait accompli and are not encouraging," Nikolic told reporters in Belgrade.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130401/us-urges-serbia-kosovo-reach-agreement-at-brussels-talks