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Ambassador Rick Grenell Attempts to Explain U.S.-Brokered Serbia-Kosovo Deal

Ambassador Rick Grenell Attempts to Explain U.S.-Brokered Serbia-Kosovo Deal

Top Trump administration officials are touting the U.S. brokered deal that has led Serbia and Kosovo to normalize economic ties as part of broader agreement that includes Belgrade moving its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, and Israel and Kosovo agreeing to mutual recognition.

“This is now the second time in less than a month that Israel has made peace with and has normalized its ties with a majority Muslim country,” said Robert O’Brien, the president’s national security adviser.

“Again, it’s another really signal accomplishment of President Trump.”

After two days of meetings with Trump administration officials, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti agreed to cooperate on a range of economic fronts to attract investment and create jobs.

The announcement provided Trump with a diplomatic win ahead of the November presidential election and furthers his administration’s push to improve Israel’s international standing.

Trump said Serbia has committed to open a commercial office in Jerusalem this month and move its embassy there in July.

The Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in late 2017 and moved the U.S. embassy there in May 2018.

The administration has encouraged other countries to do the same but has been widely criticized by the Palestinians and many in Europe because the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unresolved.

Kosovo, a predominantly Muslim country, has never before recognized Israel nor has Israel recognized Kosovo.

Kosovo’s Parliament declared independence from Serbia in 2008, nine years after NATO conducted a 78-day airstrike campaign against Serbia to stop a bloody crackdown against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

Most Western nations have recognized Kosovo’s independence, but Serbia and its allies Russia and China have not.

The ongoing deadlock and Serbia’s unwillingness to recognize Kosovo have kept tensions simmering and prevented full stabilization of the Balkan region after the bloody wars in the 1990s.

“This is economic normalization,” said Rick Grenell, the president’s special envoy for the negotiations.

“It’s a first step,” he said.

Serbia and Kosovo have already OK’d air, rail and transit agreements, including one that would clear the way for the first flight between Pristina and Belgrade in 21 years. T

The new agreement comprises many more areas of economic cooperation.

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