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Serbia-Kosovo Mediated Talks to Resume


An icon and Serbian flag cover a barricade on the road near the village of Zupce, northern Kosovo, Monday, Aug. 1, 2011

An icon and Serbian flag cover a barricade on the road near the village of Zupce, northern Kosovo, Monday, Aug. 1, 2011

Serbian officials have met with a European Union mediator to discuss the latest bout of ethnic tensions in northern Kosovo.

The head of Belgrade's negotiating team, Borislav Stefanovic, and Serbian Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanovic met Monday with EU envoy Robert Cooper in the southern Serbian town of Raska.

Stefanovic told reporters after the closed-door meeting that there would be more discussions, but he did not say when. Serbian news media report that Cooper returned to Pristina to convey Serbia's demands.

Serbia's government announced Monday it is sending trucks with food aid for Serbs in northern Kosovo, including 30 tons of flour, 20 tons of sugar and cooking oil each and five tons of powdered milk.

The region has experienced food shortages after special forces of Kosovo's ethnic-Albanian authorities a week ago seized two border crossings in Serb-dominated northern regions to enforce a ban on imports from Serbia.

Kosovo's government imposed the ban last month in retaliation for Serbia's blocking of Kosovo's goods.

Northern Kosovo Serbs confronted ethnic-Albanian security forces, triggering an exchange of gunfire that killed one ethnic Albanian policeman and wounded several other people. NATO peacekeepers intervened Thursday and took control of the two crossings under an agreement with the Kosovo government, which pulled out its special police. After the police withdrew, a mob of Serb attackers set fire to one border post and fired on NATO peacekeepers sent to quell the violence.

Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci told the Associated Press Monday that he will not give up on his drive to extend the government's authority over the ethnic Serb-dominated north, which has rejected Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia.

NATO forces Monday also removed some of the roadblocks put up by Serbs in Kosovo after a trade dispute escalated into deadly violence last week.

Those roadblocks impeded access to NATO bases in northern Kosovo.

Northern Kosovo has been fraught by ethnic tensions between Kosovo's ethnic Albanians and Serbs since Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia.

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