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Serbia, Kosovo reach tentative deal on relations

Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci addresses mediuphis arrival EEAS headquarters Brussels Friday April 19 2013. | AP Photo

Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci addresses the media upon his arrival, at the EEAS headquarters in Brussels, Friday, April 19, 2013. | AP Photo

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BRUSSELS — The prime ministers of Serbia and Kosovo have reached a tentative deal to normalize relations between the Balkan neighbors and end years of acrimony.

EU negotiator Catherine Ashton said Friday the deal culminated months of tense negotiations and showed determination of both Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.

Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, said ‘‘what we are seeing is a step away from the past and for both of them a step closer to Europe.”

Among the most difficult issues was the status of northern Kosovo, which is inhabited primarily by ethnic Serbs who do not recognize Kosovo’s predominantly ethnic Albanian government.

A precondition for joining the EU is that countries “normalize” relations with its neighbors.

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