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Trump hails historic Serbia-Kosovo deal normalizing economic relations

Trump hails historic Serbia-Kosovo deal normalizing economic relations

President Donald J. Trump participates in a signing ceremony with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, in the Oval Office of the White House. | White House/Joyce N. Boghosian

President Donald Trump announced Friday that as a result of U.S.-brokered talks, the leaders of the two rival Balkan nations of Serbia and Kosovo have normalized their economic ties after decades of dispute.

“Serbia and Kosovo have each committed to economic normalization. … They’ve been working on this for many, many years — decades, actually," said Trump, who presided over the White House signing of a deal between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti of Kosovo.

Trump said his administration proposed a new way of bridging the divide after “a violent and tragic history, and years of failed negotiations.”

“By focusing on job creation and economic growth, the two countries were able to reach a major breakthrough — something that nobody thought was going to be possible. And I think it’s going to work out very well. And we’re going to be working with them on economic cooperation across a broad range of issues,” the president said.

“There’s been tremendous death over a long period of time, and that all stops,” he added.

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In the conflict between Serbia and Kosovo, which began with the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, more than 13,000 people have been killed. While Serbia considers Kosovo part of its territory, the latter says it’s an independent state.

Former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell served as a special envoy for the talks, according to The Washington Times, which quoted Grenell as saying, “Let’s give them a little taste of the Trump economy.”

It’s not known when the agreement will be implemented, however. Officials from both countries said it could depend on whether Trump gets reelected, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal also reported that Serbia and Kosovo said they will remove 5G equipment provided by untrusted vendors from their mobile networks and ban them from bidding in the future, referring to Chinese companies such as Huawei Technologies Co. that's controlled by China's communist regime.

“We’ve also made additional progress on reaching peace in the Middle East,” Trump added. “I will say that Kosovo and Israel have agreed to normalization of ties and the establishment of diplomatic relations. The agreement we made with UAE has been incredible. … And we have other countries in the Middle East coming very much to us and saying, ‘When do we go? When can we sign?’ I think we’re going to have great peace in the Middle East. And nobody has been able to say that for a long time.”

Trump added that Serbia had committed to opening a commercial office in Jerusalem this month and to move its embassy to Jerusalem in July.

This comes about three years after the Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and about two years after it moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem in May 2018.

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