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Serbian PM: Preventing Declaration of Kosovo's Independence First Priority


Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica says his government will make every effort to prevent a unilateral declaration of Kosovo's independence.

Mr. Kostunica said in an interview published Saturday in a Serbian daily that recognizing Kosovo's unilateral move would be a gross violation of international law.

The Serbian leader accused NATO of initiating the idea of Kosovo's independence. He said NATO insists on the United Nations-mediated plan, because it would give the alliance unlimited power in the province.

Mr. Kostunica said direct talks between Belgrade and Pristina are the best path to a sustainable solution for the future of the province.

Serbian and ethnic Albanian negotiating teams are to meet for direct talks in New York next week. The current series of internationally mediated talks is set to end December 10.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders are widely expected to proclaim independence after December 10. The United States and some European nations have signaled that they would recognize the move.

The United Nations has administered Kosovo since 1999 when NATO air strikes drove Serbian and Yugoslav security forces from the province.

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