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EU Officials Urge Serbia to Act Constructively on Kosovo


A high-level delegation from the European Union has urged Serbian leaders to take a positive approach to the United Nations talks on the future of Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Wednesday after meeting with officials in Belgrade that it is important that Serbs "respond constructively, positively and on time" to the U.N. proposal for the province.

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said Belgrade will be constructive, but also unyielding in the future talks on Kosovo. He said an independent Kosovo could destabilize the region and boost other separatist movements worldwide.

EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier accompanied Mr. Solana to this first meeting between EU and Serbian officials since January 21 elections in Serbia.

The three also urged Belgrade to step up its cooperation with the international war crimes tribunal.

Solana said the EU is ready to consider Belgrade's request for a short delay to Kosovo talks to give Serbia time to form a new parliament and negotiation team.

U.N. mediator Martti Ahtisaari's proposal for the status of Kosovo does not include the word independence, but Serbian leaders have rejected the plan because it grants the province some symbols of statehood. These include a constitution, security force, flag, anthem and the ability to join international organizations.

Kosovo has been under U.N. administration since 1999, after NATO air strikes halted Belgrade's crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists there.

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

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