Page last updated at 16:18 GMT, Thursday, 24 July 2008 17:18 UK

Serbia to reinstate EU diplomats

EU and Serbian flag at the May elections
Serbia's recent elections brought in an EU-leaning government

Serbia is to reinstate its ambassadors withdrawn from European Union states that supported Kosovo's declaration of independence in February.

Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said the move would help Serbia's attempts to join the EU.

Monday's arrest of war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic was one of the EU's conditions of Serbian progress.

The country's new EU-leaning government has made becoming a member of the bloc a major priority.

The ambassadors were withdrawn from more than 40 states - the US, most EU countries, some Middle Eastern and Asian countries - that recognised the independence of Serbia's former province.

Serbia is not reinstating its ambassador to Washington or those of other non-EU states that recognised Kosovo.

Countries that have recognised Kosovo include:
USA, Turkey, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Croatia, Hungary and Bulgaria
Countries that have not recognised Kosovo include:
Russia, China, Spain, Cyprus, Romania, Slovakia and Greece

Serbian Environment Minister Oliver Dulic said a cabinet meeting on Thursday had unanimously backed the policy change.

"With this, we want to balance two priorities which we have put before us - one to continue with the fight for Kosovo and the other to intensify the process of European integration," he said.

In April, the EU signed a pact with Serbia that paved the way for its membership of the bloc.

However, the pact was not to be ratified until Serbia fully co-operated with the war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

After the pact was signed, Serbian President Boris Tadic said Serbia "would like to become an official candidate by the end of the year".

The arrest of Mr Karadzic was welcomed by the EU, which is now pressing Serbia to follow it up with the arrest of his former military commander, Ratko Mladic.

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