- Associated Press - Thursday, October 10, 2019

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s special envoy for talks between Balkan rivals Serbia and Kosovo traveled to Serbia’s capital Thursday as part of a renewed push to restart negotiations to resolve a main problem left over from violent breakup of Yugoslavia during the 1990s.

Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, met with Serbia’s president in Belgrade a day after he was in Kosovo for his first trip to the region since Trump appointed him a week ago.

“The goal is to bring our partners in Serbia and Kosovo together for a comprehensive solution to resolve points of conflict in the region,” said a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Berlin. “Both sides will need to work closely and quickly, with an eye toward the future.”


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Earlier, the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade said Grenell was carrying the message that “the people of Serbia and Kosovo want peace, economic development, jobs, and a better life for their children.”

Officials in Serbia and Kosovo see Grenell’s appointment as a sign of stepped-up U.S. engagement.



Kosovo, a former Serbian province, declared independence in 2008, a decade after a bloody 1998-99 war in Kosovo between ethnic Albanian fighters and Serbian forces. Belgrade still considers Kosovo to be Serbian territory, not a separate country.

Washington and its allies have recognized Kosovo’s independence, while Russia, China and five EU nations have backed Belgrade.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic called for a “compromise solution” to resolve the dispute, according to the statement his office issued after Thursday’s meeting with Grenell. Such a solution could be achieved if Serbia’s legitimate interests are respected, Vucic said.

European Union-backed negotiations to normalize relations between the two countries have been stalled for almost a year. Serbia has insisted the talks can resume only after Kosovo abolishes a 100% tax the government as imposed on Serbian imports to retaliate for Belgrade’s efforts to undermine Kosovo’s statehood.

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AP Writer Geir Moulson contributed to this report.

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