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Serbian Leader Meets With Russian, Chinese Envoys Ahead Of Kosovo Army Vote

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic

Serbia's president sought to rally opposition to a coming vote by Kosovo to establish an army, as he met with Russian and Chinese ambassadors in Belgrade.

Aleksandar Vucic's meetings on December 4 came 10 days before Kosovo's parliament was set to vote to transform its security forces into a regular army.

Serbian officials argue that the army would be used against the Serb minority in Kosovo, whose independence has not been recognized by either Beijing or Moscow.

"The irresponsible behavior of Pristina could lead into a catastrophe because Serbia cannot peacefully watch the destruction of the Serbian people," Vucic said in a statement.

Vucic also met with the U.S. ambassador.

Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo soared after the Kosovo government last month introduced a 100 percent tax on Serb imports.

The move followed a vote by the international police organization, Interpol, denying Kosovo membership in the organization.

Serbia had lobbied intensively against the membership proposal.

Vucic said both the formation of the army and the imposition of tariffs were intended to "force Serbs out" of Kosovo.

Kosovo split from Serbia after a 1998-99 war for independence that left more than 10,000 dead.

Serbia's crackdown in the province prompted NATO to launch air strikes.

With reporting by AP and RFE/RL’s Balkan Service

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