US calls for Serbia to improve Kosovo ties
(WASHINGTON) - The United States on Tuesday added to calls for Serbia to improve relations with Kosovo after the European Union warned that the issue was blocking talks on Belgrade entering the bloc.
Nearly all regional heads of state boycotted a reception Monday to mark the inauguration of Serbia's President Tomislav Nikolic after he said that the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica did not amount to genocide.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland declined comment on the boycott but said that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to Nikolic by telephone after his election.
"Our message to the Serbian government (was) that we want to work with the new president and we want to see Serbia continue on an integrationist path, be at peace with Kosovo and work through the remaining issues that they have together," Nuland told reporters.
The United States and its NATO allies carried out an air war in 1998-1999 that ousted Serbian forces from Kosovo. The ethnic Albanian majority proclaimed an independent Kosovo in 2008, a move recognized by more than 80 countries but rejected by Belgrade.
The European Union's enlargement commissioner, Stefan Fuele, met Nikolic on Monday and warned that relations with Kosovo must improve before Belgrade can start accession talks with the 27-nation bloc.
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