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EU leaders turn embrace toward Balkans

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June 28, 2013 04:41 AM EST | AP


BRUSSELS — European Union leaders are turning their attention away from the bloc's economic ills and toward embracing once-troubled countries in the Balkans.

Presidents and prime ministers from the 27 EU nations overcame British-French divisions and agreed early Friday on seven-year, 960 billion euro ($1.3 trillion) budget. After a few hours of sleep, they returned Friday morning to wrap up their two-day summit in Brussels.

Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen said going in to the meetings that "all the big things have already been decided yesterday" and that Friday will focus on EU enlargement talks.

Croatia becomes the bloc's 28th member on Monday, and EU leaders are to discuss Friday whether to open membership talks with Serbia, in recognition of its efforts to improve relations with breakaway Kosovo.