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Top Serbian, Kosovo Leaders Open Direct Talks on Kosovo's Future


Serbian and Kosovo Albanian leaders have opened their first face-to-face talks on the future of the United Nations-administered province of Kosovo.

Serbian President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Vojislav met their Kosovar counterparts, Fatmir Sejdiu and Agim Ceku, in Vienna Monday.

The United Nations mediator, Martti Ahtissari (of Finland), has said he does not expect a breakthrough in the day-long session.

It is the first time Kosovar and Serbian leaders have met since NATO air strikes drove Serbian forces from Kosovo in 1999 to stop a violent campaign against ethnic-Albanians.

Kosovo's ethnic-Albanian majority is demanding independence. The Serbs say that is unacceptable.

Prime Minister Kostunica says Kosovar independence would be "illegal and worthless." He has suggested Kosovo should have wide autonomy.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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