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Kosovo Dismisses Serbian Request for UN Role in Dialog

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July 24 (Bloomberg) -- Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci dismissed Serbian calls for the United Nations to play a role in their bilateral dialog and said talks may continue after both sides implement measures they’ve agreed to.

“The UN cannot participate in matters related to the technical dialog with Serbia that started about two years ago,” Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, told reporters today at the airport in the capital, Pristina, after meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic told Ban yesterday that Serbia will request that future talks with “interim authorities in Pristina” be held in the presence of UN officials, according to a statement issued by his press office. Coming to terms with Kosovo, a breakaway province that unilaterally declared independence in 2008, is a key condition for Serbia to get a start date for European Union entry talks after the country was given the candidate status on March 1.

Serbia and Kosovo have been involved in a so-called status-neutral technical dialog, sponsored by the EU. In March, they agreed to iron out issues on power supply and telecommunications and ensured the functioning of peacekeeping forces in Kosovo, including the Serb-populated north. Serbia also agreed to let Kosovo government officials take part in international meetings.

Thaci said today that the two sides need to implement what they’ve agreed to, “and then we will consider the possibility for the continuation of the technical dialog” between “the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia.”

Ban, on a week-long tour of the Western Balkans, said in Pristina today that he expects Kosovo to make “strong efforts toward the normalization of relations with Belgrade, including through the same serious and sincere commitment to dialog which I have asked from the Serbian leadership.”

About 130,000 Serbs who live among Kosovo’s mostly ethnic Albanian population of 1.7 million, don’t recognize Pristina authorities. Most of them live in the north.

Kosovo must resolve “sensitive and complex issues” related to the north through “peaceful dialog,” Ban said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Bekim Greicevci in Pristina at bgreicevci@bloomberg.net; Gordana Filipovic in Belgrade at gfilipovic@bloomberg.net

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

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