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Serbia, Kosovo Reach Deal On License Plate Dispute

A car with Serbian-issued KM license plate in North Mitrovica

A car with Serbian-issued KM license plate in North Mitrovica

Kosovo and Serbia have reached an agreement to end a long-running dispute over car license plates in northern Kosovo that had raised concerns that it could touch off ethnic violence.

"We have a deal," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Twitter on November 23 after the agreement was reached in Brussels under EU mediation.

"Very pleased to announce that chief negotiators of #Kosovo & #Serbia under EU-facilitation have agreed on measures to avoid further escalation and to fully concentrate on the proposal on normalisation of their relations."

Kosovo's ambassador to Belgium, Agron Bajrami, also confirmed an agreement had been reached.

"After long hours, we achieved our objective: we have an agreement! Now the intensive talks on full normalization can start," he said on Twitter.

The announcement came after a meeting between Petar Petkovic, head of the office for Kosovo in the Serbian government; Besnik Bislimi, Kosovo's chief negotiator in talks with Serbia; and Miroslav Lajcak, the European Union's special envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue.

Lajcak said earlier on Twitter it was his "sincere hope" that a solution would be found to de-escalate the tensions on the ground and work toward normalization of relations.

The deal calls for Serbia to stop issuing license plates with Kosovo cities' "denominations" and Kosovo will cease further actions related to the re-registration of vehicles, Borrell said .

EU spokesman Peter Stano said the aim of the meeting between the two countries that aspire to become members of the EU had been to find a way out of the situation "in the European spirit."

Borrell said he will invite the parties in the coming days to discuss next steps.

Kosovo had planned this week to start issuing fines to some 10,000 Serb drivers who continue to use Serbian-issued car license plates.

EU-backed talks earlier this week between Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic had failed to reach an agreement on the issue.

Kosovo previously postponed plans to start issuing fines for 48 hours after the talks failed.

With reporting by Reuters

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