Russian President Vladimir Putin has again expressed opposition to a unilateral declaration of Kosovo independence.

The Russian leader told reporters in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, international recognition of such a move would be illegal and immoral.

Mr. Putin repeated his call for further talks in pursuit of a compromise between Serbian and Kosovo Albanian leaders.

Before his trip to Bulgaria, Mr. Putin said any solution to the problem of Kosovo will set a precedent for international practice.

Earlier this week, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, told the Security Council Kosovo will never become a U.N. member or join any other international political organization if it unilaterally declares independence.

Months of internationally-mediated talks between Serbia and the Kosovo Albanians on the issue ended in November with no agreement.

Serbia, backed by Russia, offered Kosovo broad autonomy with many characteristics of statehood, but insisted on maintaining sovereignty over the area. Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority insists on independence

The U.S., Britain, and many European Union countries support independence for Kosovo.

The United Nations has administered Serbia's southern province since 1999, when NATO airstrikes stopped a Serbian offensive against ethnic Albanian separatists.

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