EU-brokered normalization talks between Serbia and Kosovo have ended without any agreement being reached.
Early on April 3, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton emerged from a marathon negotiating session between Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci to report that differences still existed between the two sides.
"Both prime ministers, to whom I again pay tribute, were joined by their deputy prime ministers in what was a session that lasted over 12 hours," Ashton said. "This is the last time we will meet formally. A number of proposals were put on the table and the gap between them is very narrow, but deep."
Ashton declined to describe the proposals specifically. She said the prime ministers would return to their countries for further consultations.
According to Kosovo's Thaci, the request for additional consultations came from the Serbian side.
"Unfortunately from the Serbians, we still have hesitation and stances which are not based on principles," Thaci said. "They have asked for additional time and additional consultations which is within their autonomous authority."
It was the eighth round of talks under the EU-guided process that began in October 2012. The key issue has been the status of ethnic Serbs living in northern Kosovo.
After the talks ended, Dacic told journalists that "a lot" has been achieved, but that Kosovo was concerned that granting "broad autonomy" to Kosovar Serbs could lead to "some future separatism."
Kosovo was a region of Serbia until it declared independence in 2008, a move that Belgrade does not recognize.
Belgrade must normalize its relations with Kosovo and other neighbors before it can be considered for EU membership.