Macedonian leaders struggling to solve political crisis

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SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — Macedonia's rival political leaders spent 12 hours in talks in Strasbourg, trying to resolve one of the country's deepest political crises since its independence in 1991.

Conservative Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and left-wing Social Democrat opposition leader Zoran Zaev began talks late Tuesday along with several European Parliament and Commission members. European Parliament member Richard Howitt told The Associated Press the protracted talks showed "a commitment for continuing the process."

Gruevski and Zaev made no progress in talks in the Macedonian capital of Skopje earlier this week. A new meeting is scheduled for next week.

The crisis stems from a long-running wiretap scandal that apparently showed wide corruption in the government.

Zaev, who claims Gruevski is behind the wiretapping of 20,000 people, wants the government to resign and a caretaker administration be established to oversee a new election. Gruevski accuses Zaev of plotting a coup.

In a speech to the European Parliament later Wednesday, Howitt called for political accountability for Macedonia's wiretap scandal, saying nobody has suggested the leaked conversations were entirely fabricated.

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