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New Kosovo Assembly Holds First Session


Members of Kosovo's newly-elected assembly have held their first session since the November elections in the breakaway Serbian province.

The lawmakers took their oaths of office, then adjourned their session until Wednesday as talks continue on a coalition government.

Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu has asked former ethnic Albanian guerrilla leader Hashim Thaci to form the new government, after his Democratic Party of Kosovo emerged as the party with the largest number of assembly seats.

Thaci has been holding talks with representatives of the Democratic League of Kosovo, which came in second in the voting.

Both parties have pledged to help lead Kosovo to independence from Serbia, as demanded by the province's ethnic Albanian majority.

Serbia has offered Kosovo broad autonomy with many characteristics of statehood but insists on maintaining sovereignty over the area.

Months of talks between the two sides mediated by European Union, Russian and U.S. envoys ended in November with no agreement.

Russia has backed Serbia and has threatened to veto any United Nations Security Council resolution on Kosovo independence.

Kosovo has been under U.N. administration since 1999, when NATO air strikes halted a Serbian crackdown on the area's ethnic Albanians.

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

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