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US Official: Serbian Referendum Will Not Restore Control of Kosovo


A senior U.S. official has dismissed Serbian efforts to portray its referendum on a new constitution as an opportunity to restore sovereignty over Kosovo.

U.S. Kosovo envoy Frank Wisner told reporters in Pristina that what happens in Kosovo is an international matter and one to be decided by the people of the Serbian province. He said it is not a matter of Serbian sovereignty, which changed when the United Nations Security Council placed the area under U.N. administration in 1999.

The new constitution declares Kosovo an inalienable part of Serbia. Authorities in Belgrade have been rallying voters to back the document in a referendum Saturday and Sunday as the best way to halt the province's independence.

Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanians seek full independence. Serbia insists it will never surrender control of the province. Little progress is reported in U.N.-brokered talks on the area's future.

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