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Kosovo cancels US trip following war crime indictment

June 25, 2020

Kosovo's prime minister has canceled talks with Serbia in Washington after his president was indicted for crimes against humanity. The talks were meant to be the first dialogue in 19 months.

Hashim Thaci
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/C. Huby

Kosovo's Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti canceled his trip to the United States on Thursday after his country's president was indicted for crimes against humanity and war crimes earlier this week.

President Hashim Thaci was also set to attend the talks with Serbian officials in Washington, D.C. this Saturday, before he learned of his indictment to the Hague-based court on Wednesday.

The discussion would have marked the first meeting between the two countries in almost two years. Kosovo declared independence in 2008, a move that Serbia has not recognized.

"Because of new developments, I have to return to Pristina to deal with the situation," Hoti wrote on Twitter, saying he had informed US envoy Richard Grenell of his decision.

The Special Prosecutor's office in the Hague is currently looking at the evidence against President Thaci and nine other militants who have been indicted.

Read more: Hashim Thaci's past catches up with Kosovo's future

Why has Thaci been indicted?

Thaci also returned to his home country on Thursday to face the fall-out defending the "just war" of 1998-1999 without directly addressing the charges.

Thaci was the leader of an Albanian guerilla group (KLA) that launched an uprising against Belgrade when Kosovo was a province of Serbia. The ensuing war left nearly 10,000 dead in the region.

The pre-trial charges, which still need approval before Thaci may be forced to appear in court, accuse the president and others of being instrumental in at least 100 murders and of causing the deaths of "hundreds of known victims of Kosovo Albanian, Serb, Roma, and other ethnicities and include political opponents." Other charges include enforced disappearance, torture and persecution.

Prime Minister Hoti cut short talks with European Union officials in Brussels on Thursday to return to Kosovo. The country is hoping to achieve EU membership in the next few years.

It is unknown whether the talks will be rescheduled — and in the meantime tensions between Serbia and Kosovo remain high.

ed/aw (AP, Reuters)

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