Kosovo, Serbia to meet at White House on 2 September

The leaders of Kosovo and Serbia will try to resolve their longstanding dispute at the White House next month, a Trump administration official said on Thursday night.

Richard Grenell, the special envoy for the two countries and a former ambassador to Germany, announced on Twitter. He said that the negotiations would begin on Sept. 2.

The Trump administration tried to play the role of mediator in the conflict earlier this year. Plans for a White House meeting between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovar President Hashim Thaci fell through when prosecutors at the Kosovo Special Prosecutor’s Office in The Hague accused Thaci of alleged involvement in nearly 100 murders and other atrocities.

Kosovo’s ethnic-Albanian majority is demanding recognition as a sovereign state after unilaterally declaring independence in 2008, almost a decade after a NATO bombing campaign led by the U.S. forced Serb troops from its territory. Serbia has vowed to never relinquish what it considers its historic heartland, which includes ancient holy sites of the Serbian Orthodox Church. It also demands autonomy for the 100,000 Serbs still living in Kosovo.

Both countries are interested in joining the European Union, and the conflict must be resolved before they can attain membership.

Grenell’s tweet about the talks came hours after President Donald Trump announced an agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates that would lead to normalization of relations between their two nations in exchange for Israel suspending further annexations in the West Bank.