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EU Expects Serbia Talks To Resume This Month

Merkel (left) and Tadic in Berlin on June 1 (AFP) June 1, 2007 -- The European Union's enlargement commissioner said today that the EU would resume talks on closer ties with Serbia.

Commissioner Olli Rehn said he expected the first round of the talks to begin this month. He was speaking at a press conference following talks in Berlin with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, the current EU president, and Serbian President Boris Tadic.

"On the basis of a very careful and extensive assessment, the [European Commission] can resume the negotiations on the Stabilization and Association Agreement [with Serbia]," Rehn said. "We will set the date for the first round of negotiations upon the return of [the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia] Mrs. [Carla] Del Ponte from Belgrade and in the light of the findings of her visit."

Rehn's announcement came one day after the arrest of a key Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect.

The EU last year suspended pre-entry talks with Belgrade over its failure to arrest top UN war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic and other suspects sought by the UN war crimes tribunal.

Zdravko Tolimir , who was arrested on May 31, was a former Bosnian Serb general and a top aide to Mladic. He was delivered to the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague today.

The EU move to relaunch talks with Serbia comes as major powers are about to determine the final status of Serbia's UN-administered province of Kosovo.

(AP, Reuters)

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