Photo Credit: White House.gov / YouTube screen grab
President Donald Trump with the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia at signing of historic economic agreement between the two nations that includes recognition of Israel, Serbia's embassy move to Jerusalem.

President Donald Trump announced from the Oval Office that Kosovo will officially recognize the State of Israel, and Serbia will move its embassy to the Israeli capital as part of an economic agreement signed Friday between their two nations at the White House.

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US-brokered negotiations brought the two Balkan states, both long-time rivals, together for two days of talks to sign an historic accord on economic cooperation. The two nations, who had already reached agreement on transportation and transit, agreed on a range of new items to create jobs and attract investment.

“I’m pleased to announce a truly historic commitment,” Trump said in the Oval Office. Serbia and Kosovo have each committed to economic normalization. After a violent and tragic history and years of failed negotiations, my administration proposed a new way of bridging the divide. By focusing on job creation and economic growth, the two countries were able to reach a major breakthrough,” he said.

Under the agreement, Kosovo, a mostly Muslim nation, is to officially recognize the State of Israel and normalize ties with the Jewish State, which will do the same in return.

On behalf of Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that pursuant to consultations over the past two days with the Foreign Ministry, the National Security Council and other elements, Israel and Kosovo will establish diplomatic relations.

Serbia, under the terms of its agreement, will become the first European nation to relocate its diplomatic mission in Israel to Jerusalem. Belgrade will open a commercial office in Jerusalem this month, under the agreement, and move its embassy there in July 2021. Serbia is also a candidate for membership in the European Union.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement thanking the president of Serbia.

“Kosovo will be the first majority-Muslim country to open an embassy in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said. “As I’ve said in recent days, the circle of peace and recognition of Israel is widening and is expected to add additional countries.

“I thank my friend, Serbian President Vucic, for the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to transfer to it his country’s embassy. I would like to thank my friend, President Trump, for his contribution to this achievement. We will continue efforts so that additional European countries will transfer their embassies to Jerusalem.”

The United Arab Emirates most recently recognized the Jewish State and has begun signing the official documents with which two nations create full diplomatic ties.

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