Biden’s aide expressed concern during calls with leaders of Kosovo and Serbia

By Trevor Hunnicutt

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A senior aide to U.S. President Joe Biden expressed concern about events in northern Kosovo during calls with Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, the White House said on Friday.

A political crisis that has escalated into violence in northern Kosovo has escalated since ethnic Albanian mayors took office in the region’s Serb-majority region, a move that has led the United States and their allies to berate Pristina. The majority Serb population had boycotted the April elections, allowing ethnic Albanians to be elected.

On Thursday, Biden’s senior deputy national security adviser, Jon Finer, spoke with Kurti and called on Kosovo “to allow newly elected mayors to carry out their duties from other locations and withdraw forces.” municipal building police,” the White House said.

He also praised “Kurti’s willingness to work for the conditions for new elections”, he added.

Biden’s aide spoke to Vucic on Friday and urged Serbia to “withdraw its armed forces stationed near the border and lower their readiness, as well as urge protesters to remain peaceful in the northern part of the country.” Kosovo,” according to the US summary. of the call.

In both calls, the White House said Finer expressed concern about the situation and urged all parties to reduce the conflict. Washington also expected the two sides to resume dialogue with the European Union and “fully implement the normalization agreement” reached earlier this year.

In Monday’s violence, 30 peacekeepers and 52 Serbs protesting against the installation of ethnic Albanian mayors were injured. The violence prompted NATO to announce it would send additional troops on top of the 700 already on their way to the Balkan country to bolster its 4,000-strong mission.

The presidents of Serbia and Kosovo insisted on Thursday that they wanted to defuse the crisis but showed few signs of backing down from their opposing positions.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Grant McCool)

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