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EU Foreign Policy Chief: Kosovo Talks Can Continue Without UN Resolution


European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana says the 27-nation bloc may withdraw the issue of Serbia's breakaway Kosovo province from the United Nations Security Council, if Russia continues to reject a resolution of its status.

Solana said Tuesday that Serbia and Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders can continue negotiations under the auspices of the Contact Group for Kosovo, where Moscow has a seat but no veto power. The Contact Group members are the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia.

Kosovo's leaders say the U.N. Security Council has failed on the issue. They urged the West to offer the province an alternative route to independence from Serbia.

Russia on Monday rejected a new draft resolution on Kosovo. Serbia's Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica also adamantly rejected the new draft at a meeting Tuesday in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The U.S.-EU backed draft resolution calls for four months of additional talks between Serbia and Kosovo, aimed at reaching a mutual agreement on the province's future status.

Russia, which has veto power at the U.N. Security Council, also has rejected previous draft resolutions on Kosovo because they are not acceptable to Belgrade.

Kosovo negotiators are scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday to discuss further steps towards achieving independence.

The province has been under U.N. administration since 1999, after NATO airstrikes halted Belgrade's crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.

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

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