BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — United States (US) President Donald Trump’s special envoy for Serbia and Kosovo said last Saturday that an agreement to resume railway service between the two Balkan rivals is important for both nations.
Richard Grenell, who is the US ambassador to Germany, said establishing train links became a priority after US officials brokered another deal earlier this week to restore air traffic between the countries after 21 years.
Grenell visited Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, and Serbia’s capital of Belgrade this week.
He said last Friday at a press conference in Belgrade that details of an agreement to restore rail service would be discussed at a meeting in Berlin today.
“President Trump’s vision is now happening. The business community and the focus on job creation is leading the way,” Grenell said in a written statement to The Associated Press.
Grenell was appointed by Trump in October as the special envoy to talks to normalise relations between Kosovo and Serbia.
The European Union (EU) -mediated negotiations started in 2011 and have been stalled since Kosovo imposed a trade tax on Serbian goods in 2018.
Serbia does not accept Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence, although its former province has been recognised by about 100 countries, including the US and most EU nations.
Grenell has said the US wants the two sides to focus on the economy, new jobs and prosperity as the way toward normalising ties. He has urged Serbia and Kosovo to remove obstacles that have blocked the talks for more than a year.
Serbia’s brutal intervention against Kosovo’s independence-seeking ethnic Albanians in 1998-99 prompted NATO to intervene to stop the conflict. Relations have remained tense ever since despite EU-led talks.