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Representatives of Serbia and Kosovo in the White House

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovar Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti have started two-day talks in Washington on economic rapprochement. The two politicians were received at the White House today by the US special envoy for the region, Richard Grenell.

The former US ambassador in Berlin campaigned on Twitter for an “economic normalization” between Serbia and Kosovo, which broke away from the government in Belgrade in 2008.

According to the Serbian Finance Minister Sinisa Mali, who is also part of the Vucic delegation, the agenda prepared by the US representatives should also include mutual recognition. Vucic had recently ruled out possible recognition of Kosovo again several times.

Focus on economic issues

Serbia still does not recognize its independence and regards Kosovo as a breakaway province. In July, after a one-and-a-half year break, both sides held direct talks under EU mediation for the first time to resolve the disputes. Brussels is making Serbia's recognition of Kosovo's independence a prerequisite for Serbia's accession to the EU.

In parallel with the EU, the USA is also mediating in the conflict. Washington does not focus on political, but on economic issues. An adviser to US President Donald Trump said this week that political discussions had stalled. "We keep pounding on the same issues without making much progress."

The Kosovar Prime Minister Hoti warned in advance against overly optimistic expectations. Agreements on economic cooperation are possible; A real normalization of relations could only be achieved if the independence of Kosovo was recognized by Serbia. Vucic, in turn, criticized "arrogant statements" on the subject of independence, but also affirmed his willingness to make progress on the subject of the economy.