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Serbian Government Deadlocked over EU Cooperation Deal, Kosovo


Serbia's pro-Western president and its nationalist prime minister remain deadlocked in a dispute over a European Union-offered deal on political cooperation.

President Boris Tadic wants a cabinet session called Thursday to consider the European offer. But Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, who opposes the deal, is blocking that meeting.

Instead, Mr. Kostunica wants an urgent parliament session to debate a separate European move to send a police and administrative mission to Serbia's breakaway Kosovo province. But parliament speaker Oliver Dulic, a Tadic ally, is refusing to convene lawmakers.

The prime minister and his followers have called the EU deal a trap aimed at neutralizing their opposition to plans by Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority to declare the province independent.

The stand-off prompted EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn Wednesday to postpone today's scheduled signing of the cooperation deal.

That pact would promote political dialogue and ease visa restrictions between Serbia and the 27-country trade bloc.

It would also promote EU trade and educational cooperation with Serbia. EU leaders have described the pact as a way of promoting Serbian progress toward eventual EU entry.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP .

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