Sun, 20 Sep 2020

The U.S. special envoy for Serbia and Kosovo negotiations has announced that the two countries' leaders have agreed to meet at the White House next month, after a similar meeting was canceled in June following the indictment of Kosovar President Hashim Thaci for crimes against humanity.

'We are happy to announce that the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia will meet at the White House for a negotiation on September 2,' Richard Grenell tweeted on April 14.

Kosovar Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic confirmed on August 14 that they will meet in Washington.

'On Sept 2, with Serbian side, as independent countries, we will meet at the White House for major projects that will change the economic perspective of Kosovo and the region,' Hoti wrote on Twitter.

Vucic, speaking to private television Pink on August 14, said he will attend the talks.

'Serbia is not in a position, and it would not be good to refuse talks,' Vucic said.

'The topics, as far as I talked to Grenell, will be economic. These are good topics for us,' Vucic said.

However, the Serbian leader took issue with the term 'negotiation' used by Grenell in his tweet.

He said that Serbia's position was to talk to the other side, not the state, although the United States, the Brussels administration, and most European Union countries see Serbia and Kosovo as two independent states.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 -- a move recognized by a vast majority of countries, including the United States, but not by Belgrade and Russia.

Hoti on June 25 abruptly canceled his participation in the U.S.-brokered talks with Vucic that had been scheduled at the White House in Washington on June 27, following Thaci's indictment in The Hague for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed during or after the 1998-99 Kosovo war.

The Specialist Prosecutor's Office (SPO) at The Hague said on June 24 that Thaci and other Kosovar officials 'are criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders,' as well as the 'enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture.'

Thaci was a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), an ethnic Albanian guerrilla group that fought against Belgrade's security forces in the 1998-99 Kosovo war.

Thaci has denied involvement in any war crimes.

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague is currently reviewing the indictment to decide on whether to confirm the charges.

Thaci on August 14 hailed the announcement of the White House meeting.

'I welcome the announced meeting at the White House on negotiations between #Kosovo and #Serbia. We are greatful to the #US for the tremendous dedication to peace & stability in the region,' he tweeted.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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