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Kosovo's Thaci Tells Trump Deal With Serbia 'Within Reach'


Kosovar President Hashim Thaci

President Hasim Thaci says a deal to normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia is "now within reach."

In a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump released on January 29, the leader of Kosovo said he was ready to do what is necessary "to reach a comprehensive and balanced settlement that will encompass all outstanding issues, thereby ending the century-old conflict with Serbia, and bringing peace to the whole region."

Thaci's letter, dated January 8, comes a day after Kosovar Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj proposed an international conference to work out a final deal between the two countries.

Both the European Union and Washington have pressed Kosovo to repeal a 100 percent tariff on imported Serbian and Bosnian goods that has strained international efforts to broker a deal between the former foes.

Kosovo imposed the import tax in November in retaliation for what it called Belgrade's attempts to undermine its statehood.

Belgrade has never recognized the independence of its former province, proclaimed in 2008 after a 1998-99 guerrilla war.

More than 10,000 were killed in the war, which prompted NATO to launch an air campaign in the spring of 1999 to end the conflict.

The possibility that Serbia and Kosovo might end their long-running dispute through a land swap was briefly floated last year.

But the proposal was immediately abandoned following a firestorm of criticism from rights groups as well as Haradinaj, who is fiercely against ceding any territory to Serbia.

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