This weekend the White House had hoped to host high-profile talks between leaders of Kosovo and Serbia, but the indictment of Kosovo’s president on war crimes charges forced officials to suspend the talks indefinitely, putting future negotiations in limbo.  On Wednesday, a Hague-based special prosecutor indicted Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and nine others on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during Kosovo’s war for independence. In dramatic fashion, Thaci, who was already en route to the United States, turned back home. He has not commented on the indictment. One day later, Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti informed Richard Grenell, White House special envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia talks, that he would not travel to Washington. “Due to the new developments in Pristina as a result of the indictment submitted by the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office, I have to return to my country to deal with the situation.  I informed Ambassador Grenell that I could not attend the June 27 meeting at the White House,” he wrote on Twitter. Due to the new developments in Prishtina as a result of the indictment submitted by the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office, I have to return to my country to deal with the situation.
I informed Ambassador Grenell that I could not attend the June 27 meeting at the White House.
— Avdullah Hoti (@Avdullah) June 25, 2020Grenell, who had been helping set up the talks, said he understood.  Thank you, Prime Minister Hoti. We understand your decision and we look forward to re-scheduling the meeting soon. https://t.co/BNOygifIyY
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) In this photo taken on June 18, 2020, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic speaks during a press conference in Belgrade, Serbia.Uncertain future  Grenell says the meeting will be rescheduled. But Hoti, with a one-seat lead in parliament, has a weaker negotiating position than Serbia’s president, Aleksandar Vucic, who celebrated an election win just last week.   Bieber said the cancellation by Hoti is no surprise.  “It would have been a very unbalanced meeting between a strong president and a very weak PM in terms of support in parliament. It throws the overall U.S.-led process in doubt, as it will depend on whether Thaci will remain president and if not, who would replace him,” he said. Serwer said Hoti’s cancellation is understandable, saying Kosovo is young country with weak institutions that suddenly faces “a gigantic challenge.”    “But I would expect Grenell to try again. He wants to deliver a reason for a Rose Garden ceremony, for his own sake and for Trump’s,” Serwer said, echoing those who have said that the high-profile U.S. engagement is an effort to secure a foreign policy win for the administration before the November election.  Grenell has stressed that the meeting would focus on economic and mutual interest issues. The White House had hoped this would be a first step in the process of more formal talks, with the aim of reconciliation.  Neither Vucic, nor anyone else from the Serbian side, has commented on the developments. 

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