Serbia has rejected the latest western-backed draft United Nations resolution on the future status of its breakaway Kosovo province.

Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said Wednesday that Serbia firmly rejects the new draft because it is a preparation for Kosovo's independence. He said Kosovo will never be independent, despite contrary statements by U.S. officials.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried said in Belgrade Tuesday that Kosovo will be independent even if Russia vetoes a new U.N. Security Council resolution on the province's future.

The new draft resolution allows 120 days for additional talks between Serbian officials and Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders on the contested province. But if the talks fail to produce an agreement, the draft does not envision automatic independence for Kosovo.

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana met in Brussels Wednesday with Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders President Fatmir Sejdiu and Prime Minister Agim Ceku for talks on the situation.

Solana and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Serbian President Boris Tadic Tuesday.

Kosovo has been under U.N. administration since 1999, after NATO airstrikes halted a Serbian crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.

U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari's proposal for the final status of Kosovo, presented earlier this year, recommends internationally supervised independence. Serbia, backed by Russia, has rejected the plan.

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