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Bush Says Kosovo 'Time Is Up'

June 9, 2007 -- U.S. President George W. Bush has said "time is up" for resolving the question of Kosovo's future status.

Bush spoke at a joint news conference after talks with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi today. The talks came shortly after he met with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican earlier.

"It's time to move the [UN special envoy Martti] Ahtisaari plan forward," Bush said, referring to the UN proposal to give the Serbian province, which has an ethnic Albanian majority, internationally supervised independence. The United States and its allies back the plan, which Russia and Serbia opposes.

Prodi said he discussed with the U.S. president Kosovo, Lebanon, and Afghanistan, among other issues.

Albania Visit

Bush is due to visit Albania, a strong supporter of Kosovar independence, on June 10.

At the recent G8 summit in Germany, French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed delaying a decision on the province's status for six months.

The UN plan, drawn up by special envoy Martti Ahtisaari, was formally presented to the UN Security Council on March 26.

The plan calls for "supervised independence," including guarantees for minorities.

Iraq Discussions

U.S. President George W. Bush also said he told the pope that the Iraqi government is working hard to achieve tolerance for the Christian minority in Iraq, in response to worries expressed by the pontiff.

Bush's visit to Italy is part of a six-nation European tour, which also included the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations summit earlier this week in Germany.

Thousands of leftists and opponents of the war in Iraq are converging on Rome today for planned protests against Bush's visit.

Police with sniffer dogs were deployed at Rome's central station before the first trains carrying demonstrators arrived. Thousands of military police also took up position around the key areas of the city to try and ensure that the protests remain peaceful.

Copyright (c) 2007. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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