US urges Kosovo to delay license plate move

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The United States on Friday pressed Kosovo to delay a requirement that the Serb minority switch to government license plates, charging that the Western-backed state has been uncompromising.

The European Union in August brokered a deal to allow free movement between Kosovo and Serbia, seeking to ease tensions after a series of violent incidents.

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Kosovo has given a deadline of the end of the month for all residents to switch to its license plates, a move refused by much of the Serbian minority, which insists on keeping tags from Belgrade as it does not accept majority-Albanian Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence.

The United States, which with its NATO allies backed Kosovar forces in 1999 as they fought Serbia, said that Kosovo was within its rights but should delay the rule to give time for EU-led diplomacy between the two sides.

“The United States is disappointed and concerned that the government of Kosovo has rejected requests to do so from its international partners,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

“Kosovo and Serbia should urgently and flexibly work to reach a comprehensive agreement on normalized relations, centered on mutual recognition.”

Under the Brussels agreement, Serbia agreed to abolish an entry-exit document for Kosovo ID holders and Kosovo agreed not to introduce one for Serbian ID holders.

Serbia has been a candidate to join the European Union since 2012 but its prospects are seen as bleak without a normalization of relations with Kosovo.

Tensions have been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, with many Serbs sympathetic to traditional ally Russia.

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