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Visiting U.S. Senators Urge Renewed Serbia-Kosovo Dialogue

U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (left) and Ron Johnson hold a press conference in Belgrade after meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on September 6.

BELGRADE -- During a visit to Belgrade, U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (Democrat-Connecticut) and Ron Johnson (Republican-Wisconsin) have called on Serbia and its former province of Kosovo to restart dialogue with the aim of normalizing their relations.

Murphy and Johnson made the call on September 6 following talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who said that for negotiations to resume Kosovo should first drop its 100 percent tariff on imports from Serbia.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Although more than 110 countries recognize Kosovo's statehood, Belgrade does not.

European Union-mediated talks between Kosovo and Serbia to settle their differences have stalled.

Tensions have escalated in recent months, as Pristina imposed its tariffs in November 2018 in retaliation for what it said were Belgrade's efforts to undermine the young republic on the international stage. The United States and the EU have urged Kosovo to lift the tariffs.

Any moves of rapprochement are unlikely to start before a new Kosovar government is installed following snap parliamentary elections scheduled for October 6.

Murphy expressed hope that after the polls, Belgrade and Pristina will "take steps that we all know are necessary in order to get negotiations and talks back on track."

Both senators agreed that dialogue requires sacrifice and compromise on both sides, but Johnson said that once they reach an agreement "the potential and the benefit for both nations I think will be way beyond any kind of problems with the actual agreement."

Murphy and Johnson visited Serbia following stops in Kosovo and Ukraine.

Russia was part of the original itinerary, but Johnson and Murphy are barred from entering that country.