President Trump on Friday oversaw an agreement between Serbia and Kosovo that normalizes economic relations between the two countries, and that also includes Kosovo recognizing Israel and Serbia moving its embassy to Jerusalem.
The Belgrade-Pristina deal was then signed by their two leaders in front of Trump in the Oval Office.
“Truly, it is historic,” Trump said. “I look forward to going to both countries in the not too distant future.”
The agreement came just weeks after Trump announced an agreement had been reached between the United Arab Emirates and Israel on opening up relations between the two countries.
The U.S. moved its embassy to Jerusalem in 2018 and has urged countries to do the same. Until now Kosovo, a mainly Muslim country, has not recognized Israel.
Administration officials had met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti on Thursday, urging them to put aside their political differences and pursue economic relations.
Kosovo had declared independence from Serbia in 2008, nine years after NATO conducted an airstrike campaign against Serbia in a bid to end the persecution of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
President Donald Trump participates in a signing ceremony with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, seated left, and Kosovar Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti, seated right, in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
While most Western nations have recognized Kosovo’s independence, Serbia, Russia and China have not — keeping tensions high in the Balkan region.
National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien had said Thursday that the sides had made progress, and talks had continued Friday morning.
The White House summit originally had been scheduled for June, but it was scrapped after an international court indicted Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, who was to lead the Kosovo delegation, on war-crimes charges.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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