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UN chief hails border agreement between Kosovo, Serbia

(Xinhua)

09:28, December 07, 2011

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon Tuesday welcomed the resumption of EU-brokered peace talks between Serbia and Kosovo on Tuesday, saying the adoption of an Integrated Border Management" (IBM) agreement would "pave the way for the normalization of the situation" at two disputed border checkpoints along Kosovo's northern border with Serbia.

Peace talks between Belgrade and Pristina resumed on Nov. 30, and the two sides signed the IBM Agreed Conclusions on Dec. 2.

The IBM Conclusions are expected to contribute to the " restoration of freedom of movement in a peaceful manner" along Kosovo's northern border, said a statement from the Secretary- General's press office, circulated Tuesday.

But the agreements will be tested early and often, especially at Gates 1 and 31, two security checkpoints on the Kosovo-Serbia border that have recently played host to a number of violent clashes between Kosovo Serb residents and NATO Kosovo peacekeepers stationed in the region.

The Gates have remained closed to traffic due to barricades erected by Kosovo Serbs, who object to the presence of Pristina- based security officials.

The makeshift roadblocks are manned by civilians, who have attacked peacekeeping troops with Molotov cocktails, rocks, and small arms fire in recent weeks.

But a new agreement between the sides may signal a new era in cooperation and peace at these embattled checkpoints.

"The Secretary-General urges the sides to further develop and implement, in good faith, arrangements based on these Conclusions, " the statement said.

"The Secretary-General also calls on all parties to honor the agreements reached in the framework of the dialogue, to refrain from unilateral action, and to actively support the de-escalation of tensions on the ground," the statement said.

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