Serbia, Kosovo fail to reach deal to improve ties

BRUSSELS Tue Apr 2, 2013 7:54pm EDT

Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci (R) talks to the media as he arrives for a meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic (unseen) and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (unseen) in Brussels April 2, 2013. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci (R) talks to the media as he arrives for a meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic (unseen) and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (unseen) in Brussels April 2, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Francois Lenoir

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Serbia and Kosovo failed to reach a deal on improving ties that is seen as crucial to Serbia's hopes of joining the European Union, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Wednesday.

Ashton, who has been mediating in the talks, said in a statement that the gap between the two sides was "very narrow, but deep."

She said the 12-hour negotiating session in Brussels was the last time all sides would meet formally for the EU-brokered talks. Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci would return home to consult colleagues and decide on future steps, she said.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Matt Robinson)

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