Serbia Ready to Respond if Kosovo Declares Independence

Serbia is preparing steps to retaliate against countries that recognize any future unilateral declaration of independence by its breakaway Kosovo province.

Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic says his ministry has been working on a set of measures ranging from "soft to very hard."

He told the parliament Tuesday that Belgrade is prepared to sever diplomatic ties with nations that breach Serbia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. He did not say what other measures are under consideration.

Leaders of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority said they would declare independence "in agreement with" the international community following the latest round of talks on the issue.

The internationally mediated talks ended last month in Austria without a deal.

The United States, Britain, France and several other countries have indicated they would recognize Kosovo's independence. Russia says recognizing Kosovo as a state would be in violation of international laws.

Serbian leaders say they want to continue talks until the two sides reach a mutually acceptable solution. They have offered Kosovo's ethnic Albanians broad autonomy with many elements of statehood. Kosovo's leaders insist on complete independence from Belgrade.

The "troika" of international mediators from the United States, the European Union and Russia are due to report on the latest round of talks by December 10.

Kosovo has been under U.N. administration since 1999, when NATO air strikes drove Serbian and Yugoslav security forces from the province.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.


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