NATO chief speaks to Serbia and Kosovo leaders amid tensions

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(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu). In this photo taken on Sept. 9, 2018, soldiers of NATO-led peacekeeping force KFOR take a break by the side of the road in the village of Kosterc, Kosovo. Serbia's prime minister warned on Wednesday that the formation of a Kos... (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu). In this photo taken on Sept. 9, 2018, soldiers of NATO-led peacekeeping force KFOR take a break by the side of the road in the village of Kosterc, Kosovo. Serbia's prime minister warned on Wednesday that the formation of a Kos...
(AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic). In this photo taken on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, Serbian Army soldiers perform during rehearsal exercise in Batajnica, military airport near Belgrade, Serbia. Serbia's prime minister warned on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018 that the ... (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic). In this photo taken on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, Serbian Army soldiers perform during rehearsal exercise in Batajnica, military airport near Belgrade, Serbia. Serbia's prime minister warned on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018 that the ...
(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu). In this photo taken  March 22, 2018, members of Kosovo Security Force (KSF) line up for the flag raising ceremony inside the barracks in the southern part of the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica, Kosovo. Serbia's prime min... (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu). In this photo taken March 22, 2018, members of Kosovo Security Force (KSF) line up for the flag raising ceremony inside the barracks in the southern part of the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica, Kosovo. Serbia's prime min...
(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu). In this photo taken March 22, 2018, members of Kosovo Security Force (KSF) train in hostage rescue situation inside the barracks in the southern part of the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica, Kosovo. Serbia's prime minister... (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu). In this photo taken March 22, 2018, members of Kosovo Security Force (KSF) train in hostage rescue situation inside the barracks in the southern part of the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica, Kosovo. Serbia's prime minister...

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) - NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he spoke on Thursday with both Serbian and Kosovo leaders about Kosovo's plan to form a regular army, a move that has been strongly contested by Serbia and the alliance.

A statement from Kosovo's government said Ramush Haradinaj assured Stoltenberg the transition from the Kosovo Security Force into a regular army would be done in close cooperation with NATO.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in a statement that he expressed concern about Kosovo's plan because it represents "a danger" for the "survival" of the Serb minority in Kosovo and that it could jeopardize regional stability and peace.

Stoltenberg said in a statement that both Serbian and Kosovo officials should "show calm and restraint, and avoid any provocative statements or actions."

He said he had warned Haradinaj that NATO would "examine the level of our engagement with the Kosovo Security Force.?"

"I stressed that such a move is ill-timed, goes against the advice of many NATO allies, and can have negative repercussions on Kosovo's prospects for Euro-Atlantic integration," Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg reminded Belgrade and Pristina that dialogue remains "the only way to bring durable peace and stability to the region," adding that NATO is committed to the security and stability of Kosovo.

Serbia has warned the formation of a Kosovo army could trigger an armed intervention.

Kosovo's parliament will vote Dec. 14 on the creation of a regular army. Kosovo declared independence in 2008, a move that Serbia doesn't recognize.

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