EU Offers Serbia Interim Agreement

BRUSSELS -- The European Union, eager to encourage pro-European Serbians voting in a presidential election runoff, invited Serbia on Monday to sign an interim political accord on Feb. 7, days after Sunday's decisive poll.

The 27 EU foreign ministers were unable to agree on signing a full Stabilization and Association Agreement with Belgrade as the Netherlands insisted that it must first show full cooperation with the UN war crimes tribunal on the former Yugoslavia.

Instead, they agreed to sign an interim agreement on cooperation covering trade and visas.

"The EU proposes an interim political agreement on cooperation between the EU and Serbia, providing a framework for making progress on political dialogue, free trade, visa liberalization and educational cooperation, to be signed on Feb 7, 2008," a statement issued by the EU ministers on Monday said.