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Ashton To Travel To Kosovo

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton travels to Kosovo to press for progress in the EU-mediated talks between Pristina and Belgrade on normalizing ties.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is due to visit Kosovo later today.

Ashton will meet Kosovo's leaders for discussions likely to focus on EU-mediated talks aimed at normalizing ties between Belgrade and Pristina.

Ashton arrives after mediating talks in Brussels between the two sides on March 11.

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic said a deal had been reached in Brussels allowing for greater autonomy in northern Kosovo, which is populated mainly by ethnic Serbs who, like Belgrade, reject Kosovo's independence.

Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, however, denied Nikolic's claims and EU officials did not mention any agreement.

Progress in the negotiations could potentially open the door to EU accession talks with Serbia.

Ashton will give her opinion on whether the EU should launch such talks when she meets with the EU Council of Ministers on April 16.

Meanwhile, the prime ministers of Kosovo and Serbia are due to meet on March 20 in Brussels.

Based on dpa and RFE/RL reporting