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Kosovo Lawmakers Extend EU Justice Mission For Two Years

Kosovo's parliament has voted to extend the mandate of the European Union justice mission, whose work was suspended earlier this week because of a dispute over its role.

Two-thirds of Kosovo's lawmakers voted on June 17 to allow the mission, known as EULEX, to stay in the country until June 2018.

The mission handles war crimes and other cases considered too sensitive for local prosecutors and judges.

Western sources said the EU and Kosovo had disagreed over what the mission should do. Kosovo wanted it to have more of a monitoring role but the EU wanted it to continue its job of investigating and trying cases.

The mission halted court proceedings on June 15 pending the vote.

Under a new deal, EULEX will try current cases but will only take on new cases if Kosovo's legal authorities agree.

"With this vote we are performing a service to strengthen justice in Kosovo," Prime Minister Isa Mustafa said.

EULEX is unpopular with the biggest political party, the Democratic Party of Kosovo, and some other politicians.

Senior party officials and close allies of President Hashim Thaci have been jailed or accused of war crimes, corruption, and organized crime.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP