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EU Leaders Agree to Send Civilian Mission to Kosovo


French President Nicolas Sarkozy says European Union leaders have agreed in principle to send a policing and security mission to Serbia's breakaway Kosovo province.

The French leader made his comments at the conclusion of a one-day EU summit in Brussels focusing on efforts to find a unified position on the Kosovo issue.

EU members including Greece, Spain and Slovakia have been reluctant to fully embrace the demands of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority for independence, expressing concern that it could spark separatist movements elsewhere.

Serbian authorities have offered the province wide autonomy, but insist on maintaining sovereignty over the area. Kosovo Albanians maintain their demands for full independence.

On other issues, the leaders also approved a French proposal for a commission to consider the future direction of the union and named former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez to head the group.

Kosovo has been the focus of four months of internationally-mediated talks between Serbia and the province's ethnic Albanian leaders. The meetings ended without an agreement. Serbia and its traditional ally Russia insist on continued talks. But other countries support the Kosovo Albanian demands.

The United Nations Security Council plans to consider the issue next week.

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

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

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