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EU’s Ashton Invites Serbian, Kosovar Premiers for April 17 Talks

April 16 (Bloomberg) -- The European Union invited the prime ministers of Serbia and Kosovo for another round of talks in Brussels tomorrow as the bloc prepares to release a report on Serbia’s preparedness to begin membership talks.

“I have asked” Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and his Kosovar counterpart Hashim Thaci “to come in a constructive spirit, ready to explore different options and agree to a mutual compromise,” EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton said in an e-mailed statement today.

Ashton’s invitation came just hours before Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule was due to release a progress report on Serbia that will say whether the Balkan nation has been granted a date to start entry talks in June.

Serbia and Kosovo have been at loggerheads since the wars of the 1990s that led to the breakup of Yugoslavia. Kosovo is recognized by the U.S. and 22 of the EU’s 27 members. Both need deeper EU ties after the civil wars stunted the region’s transition from communism. The European Commission said in December that mending ties with Kosovo is the key for Serbia to win a date to start entry talks.

The two prime ministers met April 2, the eighth such meeting in six months, without any agreement. A week later, Dacic’s nine-month-old Cabinet rejected an EU-mediated accord and called for further negotiations with its breakaway province.

Dacic wants Thaci to grant Serbs in Kosovo’s northern region decision-making rights on police and the judiciary and to pledge to keep the Kosovo army out of Serbian communities.

To contact the reporter on this story: 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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