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15-Nation Steering Group Holds Inaugural Meeting on Kosovo


Envoys from 15 nations backing Kosovo's independence have met for an inaugural session aimed at guiding the new nation's democratic development.

The steering group met Thursday in Vienna, where they named European Union envoy Peter Feith their chief liaison to Pristina. He said the group has rejected a partition of Kosovo, as well as calls for separate security organizations in the territory.

In Belgrade, the Serbian Cabinet held informal talks on a proposal to stop servicing Kosovo's international debt, following the territory's declaration of independence from Serbia last week.

Serbian news reports say Economy Minister Mladjan Dinkic suggested that debt payments should stop because the government has not been collecting tax revenue from Kosovo since 2000.

Serbian nationalists say Belgrade must continue to service Kosovo's $1.2 billion debt to preserve its claim to the territory.

Meanwhile, in Sofia, envoys from Belgrade and Pristina met face-to-face today for the first time since Kosovo's February 17 declaration of independence.

Serbian news reports quote Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic as saying Belgrade will not obstruct the work of the newly-formed steering group on Kosovo. But he said Pristina must participate as part of a United Nations mission on Kosovo, and not as a government separate from that of Serbia.

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

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