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Russian FM Blames West for Impasse on Kosovo


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has blamed Western countries, especially the United States, for the deadlock in negotiations on the future of Serbia's Kosovo province.

Lavrov said in Moscow Saturday that treating Kosovo's independence as inevitable is the main obstacle to reaching a compromise. He praised the mediators' report on the 120-day talks that ended last month as accurate and objective.

But U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday in Brussels that a decision on Kosovo cannot be put off. She called for a full commitment to the principles embodied in the plan proposed by a United Nations mediator, Martti Ahtisaari, for supervised independence for the province.

The talks deadlocked over the issue of independence. Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders insist on full statehood. Serbia has offered broad autonomy for the ethnic Albanian majority.

Lavrov spoke to reporters in Moscow after returning from the NATO ministerial conference in Brussels, where Kosovo was on the agenda.

The U.S., EU and Russian mediators on Friday submitted their report on the latest round of Kosovo talks to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The document is to be reviewed by the U.N. Security Council December 19th. The Russian envoy at the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, said he will recommend a continuation of talks.

Reports also say that France, Italy, Britain and Germany sent a letter to other European Union members calling on the bloc to end the negotiating process and take over responsibility for Kosovo. Those four countries support supervised independence for the Balkan region. But EU members Greece, Spain, Slovakia and Cyprus have expressed reservations about it.

The contested province has been under U.N. administration since 1999.

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

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