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Russia Again Warns Against Kosovo Independence


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov again has stressed his country's view that unilaterally granting independence to Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo could undermine European stability.

The Russian official spoke after talks in Moscow with his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner. The French minister, for his part, insisted that talks on Kosovo's future cannot drag on indefinitely.

The comments came as U.S., European Union and Russian mediators were opening two days of talks in London on the future of Kosovo with representatives of Serbia and the province's ethnic Albanian majority.

Meanwhile, the EU mediator in the discussions told a British newspaper, The Independent, that the two sides should get away from labels such as "independence." Instead, Wolfgang Ischinger said, they should "reach a solution that would provide for an internationally-supervised status for Kosovo."

Serbia has offered Kosovo wide autonomy, but its ethnic Albanian majority insists on independence.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders say they are prepared to unilaterally declare independence if talks with Serbia do not produce the desired results by the end of the current negotiations December 10.

Kosovo has been under United Nations administration since 1999, when NATO airstrikes drove Serbian and Yugoslav security forces from the area.

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

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