US asks Kosovo election winner to back Serbia talks

Washington (AFP) –


The United States on Tuesday called on Kosovo's incoming leader to prioritize normalization negotiations with Serbia, after he vowed to take a new tack.

"The United States strongly supports the EU-facilitated dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia aimed at a comprehensive normalization agreement, which should be centered on mutual recognition," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

"We will encourage the new government once formed to prioritize those negotiations," he said, as he congratulated Kosovo on its election.

In an interview with AFP on Monday, left-wing reformist Albin Kurti, who is set to become the next prime minister, said that talks with Serbia needed to begin from the standpoint of "reciprocity" and "equality."

He said that the talks should not focus on compensating Belgrade for losing majority-Albanian Kosovo as a province.

Serbia refuses to recognize Kosovo's 2008 declaration of statehood, although the two countries agreed to boost economic links last year in Washington.

The United States has an outsized role in Kosovo, sometimes called the most pro-American country in the world, after leading the 1999 NATO intervention that forced out Serbia.