BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — A U.S. envoy for the Western Balkans has described European Union's decision not to open membership talks with North Macedonia and Albania as a "historic mistake" that sends a bad message to the region.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer on Monday said the U.S. will do all it can to persuade the EU to reverse the decision before a planned leaders' meeting in May in Croatia.

Palmer says "America wants the Western Balkans to have a European perspective."

Palmer spoke in Belgrade, the Serbian capital, after meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. The U.S. has intensified efforts to help relaunch stalled talks on normalizing relations between Serbia and Kosovo, a former province whose 2008 declaration of independence Belgrade does not recognize.

Vucic says normalization talks could resume in two to three months.

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