Macedonian leader still optimistic on name deal with Greece

Macedonia's prime minister says he is still optimistic a decades-old dispute with Greece over his country's name can be settled soon, a day after thousands of Greeks attended rallies against a potential compromise.

Zoran Zaev said Thursday that while a very delicate issue the dispute should be solved as soon as possible. The 27-year disagreement has frustrated Macedonia's efforts to join NATO and the European Union.

Zaev said summit meetings planned by both organizations later this month should serve as a deadline for further progress in the talks, which started earlier this year.

Both countries have voiced willingness to make progress, and optimism that the dispute can be solved.

Greece claims its neighbor's name implies claims on its own northern province of Macedonia. Macedonia denies that.