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EU, Merkel Host Western Balkan Leaders In Berlin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU officials are hosting leaders from eight Western Balkan countries in Berlin to promote economic and political reform.

The one-day summit will be attended by officials from Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Albania, as well as EU members Slovenia and Croatia.

The August 28 gathering is also designed to encourage regional economic cooperation and renew the EU's commitment to the Western Balkans.

Merkel said ahead of the summit that Balkan countries need a "European perspective" and added that accession to the EU depends on how quickly countries will implement reforms.

The chancellor carried the same message at a similar meeting of Balkan leaders in July.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele, and Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger will also be in Berlin.

Based on reporting by dpa and