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Trump appoints special envoy for Belgrade-Pristina talks

It's the current US ambassador to Germany

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US President Donald Trump has appointed Richard Grenell, the current US ambassador to Germany, as a special presidential envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina talks, the White House has announced.

Richard Grenell's position must be confirmed by the Senate, according to Voice of America.

According to the Washington Times, Richard Grenell should perform both functions at the same time.

The Washington Times adds that Trump chose Grenell as his special envoy late last night.

Richard Grenell has been the US ambassador to Germany since May 8, 2018. A foreign policy author and commentator, Grenell founded the consulting firm Capitol Media Partners in 2010. For almost two decades, he has been a chief communications adviser to officials at the federal, state, local and international levels.

A SECRET MEETING WITH THACI IN BERLIN

According to the Washington Post, at the end of December last year Grenell met with president of the so-called Kosovo Hashim Thaci. The newspaper refers to Grenell as Trump's "trusted man" and Thaci allegedly promised him at the time that he would withdraw Pristina's taxes on Serbian goods.

The presidency of the so-called Kosovo did not officially announce the meeting, at which Grenell allegedly called for normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia and direct negotiations between two countries, according to US officials. He also expressed concern about gay rights in Kosovo.

Thaci and Grenell's meeting came days after President Trump sent letters to Thaci and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, when he said the United States was ready to assist efforts "to reach an agreement that respects the interests of both Kosovo and Serbia."

CONTROVERSIES

Grenell's work as ambassador to Germany is considered controversial. Immediately upon arriving in Berlin, he came under criticism for commenting that German companies should cease doing business with Iran, after Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 international nuclear deal. In an interview for the right-wing media outlet Breitbart he said he wished to "strengthen" the European right wing, after which he was criticized by politicians from the German ruling coalition and the opposition, and the German government announced that it would seek an official clarification of this position.

In March 2019, Grenell described German plans for military spending within NATO as insufficient, after which Wolfgang Kubicki, vice president of the opposition Free Democrats accused him of interfering in political issues of a sovereign country. Kubicki said the US diplomat was "acting as high commissioner of an occupying force" and should know that "German tolerance has boundaries."

In 2012, Grenell became a foreign policy spokesman for then Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign, but was fired just weeks later. According to media reports there was tension over the exact role he was supposed to play in the campaign, while his ill-thought out tweets with offensive comments at the expense of prominent women in the public life, such as TV presenter Rachel Maddow, contributed to the firing. Some media outlets, however, believe he was fired because of pressure from conservative Republicans, who opposed Grenell for being an openly gay politician.

Richard Grenell has been a frequent commentator on the conservative Fox News network.

(Telegraf.rs/RTS/VOA)

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