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Serbia, Russia Hail Withdrawal of Kosovo Resolution from UN


Serbia says the U.N. Security Council's decision to set aside a resolution on Kosovo's future is a victory for Belgrade and Moscow.

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica says Friday's move by the Security Council reinforces Serbia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and is a defeat for those who want independence for Kosovo and its ethnic-Albanian population.

In Pristina, Kosovo's capital, pro-independence political figures including Prime Minister Agim Ceku are considering a unilateral declaration of independence in about four months - on November 28, the same day on which Albania marks its independence.

Opposition from Russia, which can block Security Council action with a veto, led the United States and its European allies to set the Kosovo issue aside, at least for now. The Council had been informally discussing a proposed resolution that would have offered so-called "supervised independence" to Kosovo now, rather than a complete and immediate break with Belgrade.

The Security Council will now ask the six-nation Contact Group on Kosovo - the United States, Russia, Britain, Germany, France and Italy -- to meet again in search of a Kosovo formula acceptable to all sides.

No member of the Contact Group has veto power over its decisions. However, Serbia and Russia maintain that only the United Nations has the jurisdiction and mandate to resolve the future status of the province, which has been administered by the United Nations since 1999.

Members of the Contact Group are expected to decide during the coming week to continue negotiations with all parties in Kosovo for the next 120 days.

In advance of those talks, Kosovo's prime minister is traveling to Washington, for talks with U.S. officials. Mr. Ceku is expected to meet on Monday with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has been a consistent and emphatic supporter of independence for Kosovo.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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