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Thursday, 4 August 2011

NATO, Serbia reach agreement to end north Kosovo blockade

PRISTINA: NATO-led mission in Kosovo (KFOR) and Serbian officials late Wednesday reached an accord on disputed border crossings in the north, but the ethnic-Albanian government in Pristina promptly rejected it.

A French peacekeeper of the NATO force in Kosovo. (AFP Photo)

At two disputed border crossings with Serbia, Brnjak and Jarinje, "the present system of control will continue unchanged until the middle of September," KFOR said in a press release referring to its troops' control over traffic and flow of goods.

That practically means the ongoing situation will be frozen until at least mid-September, which has prompted the Kosovo government to reject the deal as it did not foresee fulfilling the main goal of Pristina to set its police and customs officers at the two main border crossings to Serbia.

Pristina ordered its security forces to wrest control of the two northern border crossings with Serbia last week to enforce a ban on imports from the country, which it said was being ignored by ethnic Serb members of Kosovo's border police.

One ethnic Albanian police officer was killed and four were injured in the ensuing clashes.

NATO troops were forced to step in when one of the border posts was set on fire and bulldozed, apparently by ethnic Serbs.

Ever since, angry Kosovo Serbs have been blocking the roads leading to the crossings for several days and vowed to remain at the barricades until a solution was found.

"Road blocks will be removed and freedom of movement will be reestablished," a KFOR statement said following the agreement.



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