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EU says Serbia, Kosovo reach deal to normalize relations between the Balkan neighbors

  • 67c6e3cb2a6c7b0d2f0f6a70670065eb.jpg

    Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci addresses the media upon his arrival, at the EEAS headquarters in Brussels, Friday, April 19, 2013. The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo negotiated for the 10th time in Brussels on one of the most difficult issues dividing them, as Serbia strains to meet conditions for eventual membership in the European Union. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe) (The Associated Press)

  • dc9dc7162a6d7b0d2f0f6a7067007746.jpg

    Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci arrives at the EEAS headquarters in Brussels, Friday, April 19, 2013. The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo negotiated for the 10th time in Brussels on one of the most difficult issues dividing them, as Serbia strains to meet conditions for eventual membership in the European Union. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe) (The Associated Press)

  • 7af1e2d02a6d7b0d2f0f6a706700b9ad.jpg

    Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci arrives at the EEAS headquarters in Brussels, Friday, April 19, 2013. The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo negotiated for the 10th time in Brussels on one of the most difficult issues dividing them, as Serbia strains to meet conditions for eventual membership in the European Union. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe) (The Associated Press)

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.