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Kostunica: EU Has Choice of Ties With Serbia or Backing Kosovo Albanians

Serbia's prime minister says the European Union will have to choose whether to sign an accord on closer ties with Serbia or dispatch its planned mission to the country's breakaway Kosovo province.

Vojislav Kostunica, in a statement, said EU foreign ministers, at their meeting January 28, will have to decide whether to sign a partnership agreement with an undivided Serbia or move to "take away part of Serbia's territory."

EU leaders, at their summit last month, agreed to send a policing and security mission to Kosovo. The planned 1,800-member mission would replace United Nations administrators in the province.

Mr. Kostunica said dispatch of the mission would negate the stabilization and association agreement Serbia and EU officials initialed in November.

Serbian lawmakers recently called for rejection of the EU accord if the bloc backs demands by Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority for independence.

Four months of internationally-mediated talks between Serbia and the province's ethnic Albanian leaders ended late last year without an agreement on the future of Kosovo.

Serbian authorities offered the province wide autonomy, but insist on maintaining sovereignty over the area.

Serbia and its traditional ally Russia insist on continued talks. But other countries support the Kosovo Albanian demands for independence. The Kosovo Albanians say they will soon act on the issue.

Kosovo has been under U.N. administration since 1999, when NATO air strikes halted a Serbian crackdown on Kosovo's ethnic Albanians.

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