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US scolds foreign minister for defacing $100 bill on social media

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Agence France-Presse

Belgrade’s top diplomat on Friday drew criticism from the US embassy for writing a nationalist slogan — “Kosovo is Serbia” — on a $100 bill as part of a social media campaign this week.

The online trend has seen Serbs scrawl the phrase, which reflects Belgrade’s denial of the independence of former province Kosovo, on foreign currencies and post images of the bills on social media.

Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic also played along and was seen in an Instagram photo grinning and holding up a $100 note, which features a portrait of Benjamin Franklin on one side, with the phrase written in pen.

The US embassy was not as amused.

“Instead of defacing the great American scientist and statesman Benjamin Franklin, Minister Dacic might want to reflect on his ideas: ‘Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors’,” it said in a statement when asked to comment.

Dacic defended the move, telling local newspaper Blic:

“This is our politics, I say this all the time, why shouldn’t I write it.”

He said he was called on to “join the action led on social networks” and that the $100 note was not his.

“I had no foreign currency but those who asked me gave me a $100 to write on,” he said.

Dacic is known for provocative comments and his hardline stance against Kosovo, who broke away from Serbia in a 1998-99 guerilla war.

The US played a leading role in the NATO intervention that ended the conflict and paved the way for Kosovo to declare independence a decade later.

Serbia and Kosovo have never normalised ties and their relationship remains tense.

Agence France-Presse

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