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Germany Will Back Serbia's EU Candidacy

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle says Germany firmly supports Serbia's bid to join the European Union and would like to see it given candidate status at next week's EU summit.

Westerwelle was speaking after talks with his Serbian counterpart, Vuk Jeremic, during a previously unannounced visit to Belgrade on February 23.

The visit came as EU-mediated talks were under way in Brussels between Serbia and Kosovo in a bid to reach an accord that would allow Kosovo to attend regional meetings.

Serbia -- which refuses to recognize Kosovo's independence -- currently rejects this.

EU leaders postponed a decision on whether to grant Serbia candidate status in December because of a lack of progress in the Serbia-Kosovo talks.

Westerwelle, who also met with President Boris Tadic, said Serbia "has gone very far" since then and was close to the goal.

Kosovo declared its independece in 2008 and has been recognized by 88 countries.

Based on AFP and Reuters reports