01 November 2006

Russia urges talks in Serbia-Kosovo feud

UPI, October 4, 2006

STRASBOURG, France, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Russia's foreign minister says the future of Serbia's mainly ethnic-Albanian Kosovo province should be solved by compromise negotiations.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters Wednesday in Strasbourg, France, that Russia cannot permit the U.N. Security Council to give a blessing to any Kosovo solution that is imposed, Serbia's RTS radio-television reported.

Shortly after addressing a parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe, Lavrov said a decision on Kosovo's future must be achieved through negotiations between the Serbian government, Kosovo's ethnic-Albanian leaders and representatives of Kosovo Serbs.

The Serbian government in Belgrade hopes Moscow will veto a possible U.N. decision that would grant independence to Kosovo, where about 100,000 Serbs live.

Leaders of ethnic-Albanians, who make 90 percent of Kosovo's 1.8 million population, insist on independence from Serbia, while Belgrade wants to retain Kosovo as an autonomous province.
U.N.-led talks between Serbs and ethnic-Albanians have been under way since February to decide who will govern Kosovo once U.N. administrators and NATO troops leave the province.