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Clinton welcomes Kosovo's steps to EU

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(WASHINGTON) - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday welcomed Kosovo's progress toward becoming a member of the European Union, saying the young nation had the full support of Washington.

Meeting in the US capital with Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, Clinton said she wanted to "applaud" a feasibility study announced last week that will make clear the issues to be discussed for Pristina to join the 27-nation bloc.

"This represents a step toward European Union membership for Kosovo, and it shows that leaders in Kosovo and in the EU are committed to strengthening their relationship," Clinton told a joint news conference.

"The United States is standing side by side with the people of Kosovo as they chart the course for their country's future," she said.

The United States and its NATO allies carried out a bombing campaign in 1999 that forced Serbian troops out of Kosovo.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move recognized by 89 nations including the United States and all but five European Union members but not by Belgrade.

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