US condemns violence in Kosovo

Photo Description : Serbia refuses to recognize Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence

WASHINGTON — The United States condemned what it called a "violent attack by a Serb mob" against NATO peacekeepers at a checkpoint in northern Kosovo, calling for calm from Pristina and Belgrade.

The State Department said that nine members of the alliance's KFOR peacekeeping force were injured in Tuesday's incident on the disputed border. An earlier toll said four peacekeepers were hurt.

"The United States condemns the violent attack by a Serb mob against the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) on September 27th," it said in a statement.

"We encourage the governments of Kosovo and Serbia to remain committed to the EU-facilitated dialogue process, to encourage calm, and to find agreements that improve the lives of the ordinary citizens in both countries," it said.

Those talks -- the latest round in a six-month bid by the European Union to help settle friction between the two neighbors -- were shelved on Wednesday.

In Brussels, senior EU diplomat Robert Cooper, who has been brokering talks since March, said the seventh round of dialogue would not take place "because the Serb delegation was not ready to proceed with discussions today."

The two sides have been at loggerheads over control of the border crossings at Jarinje and Brnjak since July when efforts by the authorities in Pristina to seize the crossings ended with the killing of a Kosovo police officer.

Tuesday's incident occurred as KFOR moved to dismantle one of the main Serb roadblocks near the Jarinje crossing.

On Wednesday, three Kosovo Albanians were attacked by a group of ethnic Serbs in the northern part of the ethnically divided city of Kosovska Mitrovica while they were working on a US funded aid project.
Serbia refuses to recognize Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence.

Belgrade officially still treats Kosovo as one of its provinces, and in northern Kosovo they maintain a parallel Serb administration with its own municipalities, courts, schools and hospitals.

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