European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Friday met Serbia's Prime Minister Ivica Dacic as part of a bid to relaunch Serbia-Kosovo talks vital to easing strains in the Western Balkans.
Ashton will later in the day meet Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, EU officials said, as she takes on for the first time an EU-facilitated "dialogue" between the two that started off at lower level early last year.Serbia rejects Kosovo's unilateral 2008 proclamation of independence, which is recognised by some 90 states including 22 of the EU's 27 members and the United States.
"The purpose of these meetings is to discuss the way forward in the EU-facilitated dialogue," a statement from Ashton's office said.
The EU-sponsored dialogue so far has yielded several agreements aimed at ending daily headaches for citizens on both sides, such as the mutual recognition of university degrees or returning property records. The talks were halted after Serbia held elections in May and Brussels has been stepping up the pressure for them to be resumed.
Serbia is an EU candidate member and Kosovo hopes to formalise ties, but the bloc has made clear to both that they must re-enter the talks and show concrete results.