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Belgrade to give its answer on talks with Kosovo Monday

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Serbia will make public its response to EU-sponsored talks with Kosovo on Monday, after receiving an "ultimatum" during a meeting in Brussels in which the two countries failed to find common ground on how to defuse their longstanding tensions, the president said.

"There will be a government decision tomorrow (Monday) which will be backed by the president and a majority of political parties," Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic told reporters on Sunday.

During the April 2 talks "in Brussels, (Serbia) did not get an offer, but an ultimatum," he said.

A proposal for an agreement between Pristina and Belgrade that could pave the way for Serbia to start EU accession talks with Brussels "can and should be improved", Nikolic said.

Also on Sunday, Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said Belgrade "wants to continue its dialogue" with Kosovo which declared independence from Belgrade in 2008.

"We are aware of the seriousness of the problems we are facing, both with the EU and in our relations with Pristina, but nobody questions our path towards European integration," Dacic told reporters.

Serbia and Kosovo have so far failed to agree on how to defuse their crisis at the marathon talks. Both sides were expected to respond to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton -- who has chaired the eight rounds of talks between the Serbian and Kosovo delegation -- by Tuesday.

The main stumbling block in the talks, which got under way late last year, has been the future of the Serb minority living in Kosovo, especially the north, since it declared independence.

Majority ethnic Albanian Kosovo has since then won recognition from around 100 countries, including the United States and most EU member states.

Serbia and the about 40,000 Serbs living in northern Kosovo continue to reject Pristina's declaration of independence.

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

On Saturday, the influential Serbian Orthodox Church called on the Belgrade leadership to reject the deal with Pristina.

Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej said in a letter addressed to the country's leaders they must not "give up, sell or betray" Kosovo for a "murky" EU membership promise.

"The price is too high... Serbia must not accept to pay that price for goods that might never be delivered," the patriarch said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130407/belgrade-give-its-answer-talks-kosovo-monday