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Kosovo Celebrates First Anniversary of Independence

Thousands of jubilant ethnic Albanians in Kosovo poured into the streets of Pristina Tuesday to celebrate the first anniversary of independence from Serbia.

Revelers in the Kosovo capital sang, waved flags and honked car horns in tribute to the anniversary. Reveler Majlinda Demiri told AFP news agency "there is no better word in the world than independence."

Serbian officials are downplaying the event and reasserting their opposition to the Kosovo declaration.

The daily Politika newspaper quoted Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic as saying Serbia was to resume talks with the United Nations on the contentious issue Tuesday.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008, despite vehement protests by Belgrade and its traditional ally, Russia. More than 50 countries, including the United States, have recognized the Kosovo declaration.

Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci told the Associated Press that Kosovo's first full year as a sovereign state was "a complete success." He said the region did not sink into another armed conflict as was feared, and there has been no mass exodus of Serbs from Kosovo.

However, Kosovo's minority Serbs have repeatedly clashed with the majority Albanians, especially in northern Kosovo close to the border with Serbia. Ethnic communities remain divided.