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Serbia Proposes Ethnic Division in Kosovo

The Serbian minister for Kosovo says Belgrade has formally proposed dividing ethnic Serbs and Albanians in the contested Kosovo territory.

The Serbian newspaper Politika quoted Slobodan Samardzic Saturday as saying that the proposal submitted to the United Nations Mission would create "the functional separation of Serbs and Albanians" within Kosovo.

He said Belgrade recognizes the jurisdiction of U.N. police, justice and customs officials in the territory. But he said since the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority, only the Serbs, with the help of Serbia, can implement the U.N. authority.

Kosovo's parliament declared independence from Serbia on February 17. It has been under U.N. administration since 1999, after NATO airstrikes halted Belgrade's crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.

Since Kosovo's declaration of independence, ethnic Serbs have been involved in violent protests, especially in northern Kosovo.

Samardzic said if U.N. administrators want peace and stability, " they have to reach a sustainable agreement."

Larry Rossin, the deputy chief of the U.N.'s Kosovo Mission, said the document has been sent to U.N. headquarters in New York for discussion.

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