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Serbian PM Discusses Kosovo with EU Officials - 2004-03-23

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica is meeting with heads of the European Union to discuss the latest violence in Kosovo.

Mr. Kostunica met in Brussels Tuesday with European Commission President Romano Prodi, foreign policy chief Javier Solana, and external relations commissioner Chris Patten. The officials are likely to discuss the violent ethnic clashes last week between majority ethnic Albanians and Serbs and work on remedies to improve the situation.

Mr. Kostunica was expected to propose dividing the U.N.-administered province into regions called "cantons" to prevent further clashes.

The European Union has condemned the upsurge of violence in Kosovo and called on all sides to show restraint.

The French news agency, AFP, says that after Mr. Kostunica's meetings at EU headquarters, the Serbian prime minister travels to Paris for talks with French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin.

On Monday, Kosovo observed a day of mourning for the 28 people killed during the three days of clashes, considered some of the worst ethnic fighting to erupt in Kosovo since 1999. More than 600 people were injured and some 4,000 left homeless.

The violence was sparked by the drowning deaths of two ethnic Albanian boys. They were buried Sunday in the village of Cabra, about 40 kilometers north of Pristina.

Thousands of Kosovars attended the funeral. NATO-led peacekeepers backed by armored personnel carriers provided security.

Kosovo has been under U.N. administration since NATO airstrikes drove out Serbian and Yugoslav troops in 1999 in response to a violent crackdown on ethnic Albanians.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.