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Rice Calls for Tough Decisions on Kosovo Future


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has urged European allies not to put off what she called "tough decisions" on the final status of Serbia's breakaway Kosovo province.

The secretary told reporters traveling with her to meetings in Berlin that the status of Kosovo must be resolved. She warned of some danger in putting off what needs to be done, saying further delay will not make final resolution of the issue any easier.

Rice is expected to discuss Kosovo with her colleagues from Britain, France and Germany as they meet in Berlin with their Russian and Chinese colleagues for talks on Iran's nuclear program.

Leaders of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority are expected to unilaterally declare the independence of their province in coming weeks after months of fruitless internationally-mediated talks on the issue with Serbian representatives.

Serbia, backed by Russia, offered Kosovo broad autonomy with many characteristics of statehood, but insisted on maintaining sovereignty over the area. Russia has pledged to veto any United Nations Security Council resolution on Kosovo independence.

The United States and some European Union countries back Kosovo independence, but other EU states fear such a move, contending it could fuel separatist movements within their borders

U.N. officials have administered the breakaway Serbian province since 1999, when NATO airstrikes halted a Serbian crackdown against ethnic Albanian separatists.

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

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