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Serbia Says It Wants ‘Comprehensive Settlement’ With Kosovo

Jan. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Serbia will seek a broad political agreement with Kosovo while in talks on technical issues with its former province as part of efforts to become a candidate for European Union membership.

While it will refuse to recognize Kosovo’s 2008 secession, Serbia wants a “sustainable and lasting peace” with Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority, Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said today in a speech outlining 2012 foreign policy goals. Serbia needs “ironclad, internationally guaranteed assurances that safeguard” the Serb population and their heritage in Kosovo, including ancient Christian churches, as well as “settling private and commercial property claims,” he said in Belgrade.

Serbia’s failure to make substantial progress in EU-mediated talks with Kosovo over trade, border control and mutual recognition of documents led to a delay in December on awarding the country candidate status.

“Our diplomatic efforts will also focus on maintaining a healthy international environment within which the technical dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina can continue,” Jeremic said.

Protests by an ethnic Albanian group that demands a continued boycott of Serbian goods left 10 Kosovo police officers injured and 18 protesters arrested in the last several days. In previous months, Serbs living in northern Kosovo led rallies against the attempts by ethnic Albanians to control all of the disputed territory.

To contact the reporter on this story: Misha Savic in Belgrade at msavic2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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