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Kosovo, Serbia Leaders To Hold Talks As Tensions Persist

Kosovar Prime Minister Isa Mustafa (right), Kosovar President Hashim Thaci (l) and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini attend talks on establishing normal relations between Serbia and Kosovo in Brussels on January 24.

The presidents and prime ministers of Serbia and Kosovo are due to meet on February 1 for a new round of talks aimed at improving their relations, which are still strained nearly two decades after a deadly conflict.

The talks, hosted by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels, follow a recent spike in tensions between the two countries.

The last such meeting was held on January 24, when the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia agreed to hold further high-level talks on establishing normal relations.

The friction between Belgrade and Pristina increased in early January with the detention in France of former Kosovar Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, a guerrilla commander in Kosovo's 1998-99 war for independence from Belgrade, on war crimes charges.

It increased days later when a Serbian train with signs reading "Kosovo is Serbia" was turned back from the border with Kosovo.

Kosovar leaders have accused Belgrade of trying to destabilize the country and plotting to take control of an ethnic-Serbian-dominated enclave in northern Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and is recognized by 114 countries. Serbia accused Kosovo of seeking to provoke war.

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