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Serbia to approve Kosovo reconciliation deal

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 21, 2013 at 6:44 pm •  Published: April 21, 2013

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia's ruling parties pledged Sunday to support a landmark agreement to normalize relations with former province Kosovo that could end years of tensions and put both states on a path to European Union membership.

Kosovo, considered by nationalists to be the medieval cradle of the Serbian state and religion, declared independence in 2008. Belgrade has pledged never to recognize the secession.

The EU brokered the tentative deal in Brussels on Friday in talks with the prime ministers of Serbia and Kosovo. The agreement would give Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leadership authority over rebel Kosovo Serbs. In return, the minority Serbs would get wide autonomy within Kosovo.

During an urgent session that started late Sunday, Kosovo's parliament voted in favor of a resolution to support the initial agreement.

The 120-seat legislature voted 89-5 early Monday to back the conclusions in the EU-brokered deal. The tense session was interrupted by hardline opposition members who oppose talks with Serbia.

About 200 protesters gathered outside the assembly to voice their opposition to the agreement because they fear it enables the Serb minority to carve out a portion of Kosovo territory and join Serbia.

Kosovo lawmakers still will have to ratify any final agreement that will contain details about how it is implemented.

Serbia's government and parliament have yet to endorse the deal that came after months of tense negotiations between the two premiers.

Leaders of the two main ruling parties in Serbia said Sunday they will support the tentative agreement at a government session scheduled for Monday. A Serbian parliamentary session to discuss the issue will be held later in the week.

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