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Kosovo Leaders Agree on Coalition Government


Leaders of the two largest parties in the Kosovo Assembly have signed a coalition agreement on creation of a government expected to lead the breakaway Serbian province toward independence.

Former ethnic Albanian guerrilla leader Hashim Thaci will head the government, after his Democratic Party of Kosovo won the largest number of assembly seats in November's elections. The party will govern in coalition with President Fatmir Sejdiu's Democratic League of Kosovo.

The assembly is expected to confirm the accord Wednesday.

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.

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

Months of internationally-mediated talks between the two sides ended in November with no agreement.

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 AP and Reuters.

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