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Serbian president issues veiled threat over Kosovo

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic speaks during a press conference after talks with his Austrian counterpart Alexander Van Der Bellen at the Serbia Palace in Belgrade, Serbia, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. Van Der Bellen is on a one-day official visit to Serbia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic says a U.S. call for the withdrawal of a UN peacekeeping mission from Kosovo would leave his country no choice but to “protect” its people in the former province.

Vucic did not specify what kind of action Serbia could take in Kosovo which declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

But his veiled threat Wednesday came after U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley called for the development of “an exit strategy” for the UN mission, known as UNMIK.

Vucic says its departure, as well as possible formation of the Kosovo army, would leave Serbia no choice “but to protect our country and our people.”

UNMIK was deployed in Kosovo in 1999 after NATO intervened to stop a Serb crackdown on Kosovo Albanian separatists.

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