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Stalled Kosovo-Serbia talks to resume Sunday

1 min 20Approximate reading time

Kosovo's Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic will relaunch talks in Brussels on Sunday, an EU spokesman said, reviving negotiations that ground to a halt in 2018.

The talks are intended to solve one of Europe's most intractable territorial disputes, with Belgrade refusing to recognise Kosovo's independence.

The talks will follow a video summit on Friday hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel aimed at easing tensions between the Balkan rivals.

"It is no coincidence that we are continuing the virtual dialogue on Sunday (in Brussels)," said Peter Stano, an EU spokesman.

"These are complementary events."

Both Kosovo and Serbia have been facing mounting pressure from the West to reboot negotiations after a series of diplomatic tit-for-tats effectively suspended the peace effort.

The new push comes after Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci was charged last month with war crimes by prosecutors in The Hague over the secessionist that killed 13,000 people.

The indictment at the EU-backed tribunal led to the postponement of a White House summit between Serbia and Kosovo due to be held at the end of June, after Thaci cancelled his trip.

European officials had bristled at the US initiative, having spent years trying to resolve the dispute.

Resolving the lingering conflict is a requisite for either side to make progress on their EU accession dreams.

Serbia has refused to recognise the independence Kosovo declared after the province broke away in the bloody 1998-99 war that ended only by a NATO bombing campaign against Serb troops.

More than 13,000 people died in the war, mostly Kosovo Albanians, who form a majority in the former province.

During the war Thaci was the political leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), but prosecutors in The Hague suspect him of being behind nearly 100 murders as well as numerous cases of persecution and torture.

He has denied the charges, accusing the international tribunal of "rewriting history".

Tensions with Serbia flared anew when its President Aleksandar Vucic called the indictment "good news".

Yet Vucic, whose party claimed a big win in parliamentary elections last month, has been under Western pressure to make progress on talks with Pristina.

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