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UK's Johnson urges Kosovo to keep talking with Serbia

Associated Press Associated Press 10/11/2016
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson addresses Kosovo's Parliament in capital Pristina during his one day official visit to Kosovo on Thursday, Nov.10, 2016. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu) © The Associated Press British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson addresses Kosovo's Parliament in capital Pristina during his one day official visit to Kosovo on Thursday, Nov.10, 2016. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

PRISTINA, Kosovo — British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson has urged Kosovo to continue its talks with Serbia since both nations "share a vital interest in a normal relationship."

Both nations want to join the 28-nation European Union, although their applications are at different stages. Serbia has launched membership talks while Kosovo last year signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement, the first step toward membership.

"Kosovo and Serbia share a vital interest in a normal relationship," Johnson said, speaking at the Kosovo parliament.

As part of a Balkans tour, Johnson was in the Kosovo capital of Pristina on Thursday, meeting with top political leaders. He urged them to continue cooperating with the special court on war crime, created last year following pressure from Kosovo's Western backers.

"All those guilty of war crimes, on all sides, should be locked up," Johnson said, adding he would say the same thing in Belgrade, his next visit.

The pain and grievances of the past cannot be easily set aside, according to Johnson, but "cooperating with the special court for war crimes is so important for Kosovo, however difficult this may be."

"It also requires a sincere attempt to resolve the wrongs of the past," he said.

Kosovo broke away from Serbia and declared independence in 2008. Britain was among the first countries to recognize their independence. Now 112 countries do but not Serbia.

Later Thursday, in Belgrade, Johnson praised Serbian government efforts to normalize ties with Kosovo and promised support for the country's bid to join the European Union despite Britain's decision to leave the bloc.

"We will remain friends of Serbia," Johnson said after meeting Serbia's Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.

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