Serbian President Boris Tadic has told the U.N. General Assembly that his country welcomes dialogue with Kosovo, but will never recognize the breakaway republic as independent.
Speaking to the Assembly on Saturday, Mr. Tadic said Serbia looks forward to European Union-facilitated dialogue with Kosovo, and hopes it will lead to a mutually acceptable compromise. But he also said Serbia's position remains unchanged, that it will not recognize the unilateral independence of Kosovo.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move that Belgrade called illegal. The United States and most European Union countries have recognized Kosovo, while powerful U.N. Security Council members Russia and China have backed Serbia.
Mr. Tadic also urged all United Nations member nations who have not yet recognized Kosovo's independence to refrain from doing so, at least while the dialogue between the two states is taking place. About 70 of the 192 U.N. members have recognized Kosovo.
Earlier this month, after negotiations between Mr. Tadic and EU officials, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo.
Mr. Tadic said those talks will begin "soon," but he gave no date.
Earlier this year, the U.N.'s highest court, the International Court of Justice, ruled that Kosovo's declaration of independence did not violate international law.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP.