Accessibility links

Breaking News

Kosovo, Serbia Make 'Good Progress' In Working Out Railway Deal Details

Ambassador Richard Grenell speaks during a press conference after a meeting with the Serbian president in Belgrade on January 24.

Kosovo and Serbia have made progress in working out the details of a deal on restoring railway traffic between their capitals, according to the special U.S. envoy to the Balkan nations, a week after the former war foes reached an agreement to resume commercial flights.

“We made good progress this morning on issuing a Letter of Intent on railway cooperation,” Richard Grenell said after a meeting between the Serbian and Kosovar delegations on January 27.

“The discussions went well enough that we also discussed other issues,” he said in a statement.

Grenell, who also serves as U.S. ambassador to Germany, hosted the talks at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin. He has conducted separate meetings with officials in Belgrade and Pristina in recent days to discuss the railway agreement.

The statement comes after Grenell on January 20 mediated the signing of an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia on the resumption of commercial flights between their capitals that were broken two decades ago when the 1998-99 Kosovo conflict escalated.

Kosovo’s outgoing Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj hailed the agreements as “positive signs” and said the deals would also push Kosovo to repair its railway system, which is in “a miserable situation.”

Relations between Pristina and Belgrade have remained strained after the Kosovo war that claimed more than 10,000 lives and left over 1 million people homeless.

Serbia continues to consider its former province part of its territory. Kosovo's independence, declared in 2008, has been recognized by about 100 countries, including the United States.

Talks on normalizing diplomatic relations were derailed in November 2018 by Pristina's imposition of 100-percent tariffs on Serbian goods and services in response to Belgrade's continued lobbying for countries to reverse their recognition of Kosovo.

During his visits to Pristina and Belgrade this month, Grenell urged the two neighbors to overcome their differences and to focus on economic development.

With reporting by AP