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Kosovo Police Bar Serbian Minister For Kosovo

Goran Bogdanovic was sent back to the Serbian border.
STRPCE, Kosovo (Reuters) - Kosovo police refused to allow a Serbian minister to visit a Serb-dominated town and escorted him back to the border today, saying he had not sought permission beforehand.

Serbia's Minister for Kosovo, Goran Bogdanovic, was turned back while attempting to enter the eastern town of Strpce, a Reuters witness said.

"I am not here to start a new war or to organize Serbs to make protests or violence," Bogdanovic told Kosovo police when they informed him of the government's decision. "I am here to talk with my people about how to live together with Albanian neighbors."

Serbia still considers Kosovo, where 90 percent are ethnic Albanians, part of its territory, two years after its former southern province declared independence.

Last week, Serbian President Boris Tadic, speaking during Christmas festivities in a Kosovo monastery, said he would like to see Kosovo join the European Union as part of Serbia.

Pristina criticized Tadic for making political speeches during a festive visit to a religious site, and said it may ban him from entering the country in the future.

Since the government in Pristina in 2008 decided Serbian officials must seek permission before entering Kosovo, Belgrade representatives have visited the roughly 120,000 ethnic Serbs there less frequently.