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Serbia and Kosovo have inched towards better ties after signing agreements in several key areas following EU-mediated talks. Both have EU ambitions that hinge on improved relations.
The new deals cover areas including energy and telecommunications. The EU also says Serbs in northern Kosovo will enjoy greater rights and have access to some from Belgrade.
Kosovo, which is Serbia's former southern province, will receive its own telephone code. This is seen as a recognition by Serbia of the sovereignty of majority-Albanian Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008. Belgrade has refused to recognize Kosovo as an independent state.
"Today's outcome represents landmark achievements in the normalization process," said EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who brokered the talks in Brussels between prime ministers Aleksandar Vucic of Serbia and Isa Mustafa of Kosovo.
"Solutions such as those found today bring concrete benefits to the people and at the same time enable the two sides to advance on their European path," said Mogherini.
Kosovo's secession came almost a decade after the 1998-1999 Kosovo war ended, when NATO intervened with air strikes to drive out Serbian forces and halt the killing of ethnic Albanian civilians.
In 2013, Pristina and Belgrade signed an EU-brokered agreement to normalize ties. That helped Serbia to start EU accession talks a year later.
The agreements come two days before a major summit of western Balkan nations and Mogherini, amid concerns over Moscow's influence and the huge flow of migrants passing through the region.
jr/lw (Reuters, AFP)