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Russian Foreign Minister Says West Blocking Progress on Kosovo


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Western support for Kosovo's independence is blocking further talks between Serbs and Kosovo Albanians.

Speaking in Moscow Wednesday, Lavrov said Serbia, which opposes independence, has presented compromise proposals for the status of the territory. But he said the possibility of progress has been blocked because the West considers Kosovo's independence inevitable.

Lavrov meets Friday with NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, where he is expected to reaffirm Moscow's opposition to a unilateral independence move.

The foreign ministers also are expected to commit to maintaining peacekeeping troop levels and to confirm they will not place restrictions on how the force deals with violence in the breakaway province.

Serbia has asked the U.N. Security Council not to allow Kosovo Albanian leaders to speak at a December 19 meeting on the future of the province.

In a letter to the council president this week, Serbian Ambassador Pavle Jevremovic said representatives from Kosovo should attend the meeting but should not be allowed to speak.

Internationally-mediated talks on the future status of Kosovo ended last month without an agreement.

Kosovo and its 90 percent ethnic Albanian majority are demanding independence from Serbia. The Serbs oppose it. There is some concern that if Kosovo's government declares independence, it could put in doubt the United Nations mandate for the NATO-led force there.

Some in the Balkans fear a Kosovo declaration of independence could spark violence.

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

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