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Serbian PM Says US Support for Kosovo Independence Undermines Bilateral Ties

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica says U.S. support for efforts to grant supervised independence to Kosovo is undermining Serbian-American relations.

In a written statement, the Serbian leader says American-led efforts to create what he called a second Albanian state on Serbia's territory will lead directly to a deterioration of relations.

He says Serbia has the legitimate right to seek respect for its territorial integrity as set forth in the United Nations Charter.

The United States and European countries have backed proposals by U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari to grant Kosovo, and its ethnic Albanian majority, internationally supervised independence. Serbia strongly opposes the plan.

The speaker of the upper house of Russia's parliament, Sergei Mironov, predicted that his country will veto any U.N. Security Council resolution granting Kosovo independence. His comments came during a debate on Echo Mosvky radio with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

The United Nations has administered Kosovo since 1999, when NATO air strikes halted Belgrade's crackdown on ethnic Albanians in the area.

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