State Department sends official to Israel amid spike in violence
Trump selects Grenell as special envoy for Serbia, Kosovo peace talks
President Trump has selected the U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, as the Trump administration's envoy for ongoing peace talks between Serbian and Kosovan officials, the White House announced Thursday night.
Grenell, who will remain as ambassador to Germany in addition to his new duties, will lead U.S. efforts to assist Serbia and Kosovo to reach a formal peace agreement that could result in Serbia's recognition of Kosovo as an independent nation.
Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008, is recognized as a sovereign state by more than 100 United Nations members including the U.S. but has been blocked from entering the European Union (EU) as well as the U.N. thus far due to lobbying from Serbian officials.
Tensions between the both sides escalated late last year when Kosovo's government implemented a 100 percent tariff on goods imported from Serbia, up from a 10 percent tariff announced earlier in the year.
Leaders from the two governments met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron in April, at which time Kosovo's president expressed optimism about reaching a deal.
"I am an optimist. I believe that we can achieve an agreement that will bring recognition of Kosovo by Serbia," President Hashim Thaci told The New York Times.