Kosovo president cancels US talks with Serbia after war charges

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Washington (AFP)

Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci on Wednesday canceled a visit to Washington to discuss tensions with Serbia after he was charged with war crimes, the US mediator said.

Saturday's talks will go ahead with the participation of Kosovo's new Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti, who has moved to ease friction with Serbia, envoy Richard Grenell said.

A tribunal in The Hague charged the veteran Kosovar leader with 10 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the country's conflict in the 1990s, accusing him and his counterparts of involvement in nearly 100 murders.

"I respect his decision not to attend the discussions until the legal issues of those allegations are settled," Grenell, a former ambassador to Germany and US intelligence chief, wrote on Twitter.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic will join this weekend's talks, which are set to take place at the White House but without President Donald Trump personally.

At the heart of the dispute is Serbia's rejection of the independence that Kosovo, home to an ethnic Albanian majority, declared in 2008 after breaking away in a bloody war.

Hoti took charge earlier this month and quickly eased tensions by lifting a ban on Serbian imports.