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Serbia approves Kosovo deal

In Hungary

Serbia’s government formally backed an April 19 agreement with Kosovo, paving the way for better ties with the breakaway province that could win Serbia a date for starting European Union membership talks. Prime Minister Ivica Dacic’s Cabinet “accepted the first agreement on the principles that regulate the normalization of ties achieved in the dialogue on Kosovo” in Brussels, the government’s press office said in a statement Monday. The Cabinet also “instructed ministries” to take steps to install the accord and continue “with the implementation of previous agreements,” it said. Serbia backed the deal a day after Kosovar Premier Hashim Thaci presented the accord to 120-seat Parliament, where 89 lawmakers backed and 5 opposed the agreement. The deal would help Serbia win a start date for EU membership talks in June and unlock pre-entry negotiations for its breakaway province, after Kosovo declared independence in 2008 following the wars of the 1990s that split the former Yugoslavia. The EU-mediated accord gives Serbia and Kosovo June 15 deadline to work out power sharing in telecommunications and energy, and make progress in clarifying fate of people missing on both sides since the 1998-99 war.

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