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EU Says Serbia, Kosovo Have Hours Left for Deal as Report Nears

April 18 (Bloomberg) -- Serbia and Kosovo ended another round of European Union-mediated talks without an accord and have “some hours left” to reach a compromise before EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton presents a report.

The difference between positions held by Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and Hashim Thaci, met nine times in six months with no result, “are narrow and very shallow,” Ashton said in a statement e-mailed by her office.

“As we prepare for the General Affairs Council on Monday where I will make my report, we have some hours left,” Ashton said. “I hope in that time, that both delegations will reflect on whether they can take the final steps necessary to finish this agreement and to move their people forward into the future.”

Ashton invited the two leaders to Brussels to make another effort toward reconciliation before Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule completes his his report on Serbia’s readiness to start membership talks, which include an accord with the breakaway province.

Serbia refuses to acknowledge Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence, which has been recognized by more than 90 nations, including the U.S. and 22 of 27 EU member states.

Serbia, which hopes to get a date for the start of EU entry talks by June, 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.

Serbia rejected an EU-brokered deal on April 8 and called for more talks toward sustainable and implementable solution.

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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