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U.S. rejects Russian proposal for more dialogue on Kosovo

RIA Novosti

13/12/2007 09:38 UN, December 13 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's proposal to continue talks over the future status of Serbia's province of Kosovo was rejected by the United States during a UN Security Council session Wednesday, the U.S. ambassador to the UN said.

"We fundamentally differ with the Russians on this issue. The negotiations have been exhausted," Zalmay Khalilzad told journalists. "Now is the time for the (Security) Council to decide, and if the council doesn't decide there has to be a remedy found outside the council for the problem."

The UN deadline for an agreement between Belgrade and Pristina on Kosovo ran out Monday, and the predominantly Albanian province had earlier said it would unilaterally declare independence if no deal was reached, a move which has the backing of the U.S. and other Western countries.

Russia has warned of a chain reaction if the province breaks away from Serbia, believing that independence for Kosovo could lead to a domino effect, causing other separatist regions to follow suit.

"Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence and its illegitimate recognition will certainly have consequences, as a chain reaction will hit the Balkans and other regions," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.

The Contact Group troika - Russia, the United States and the European Union - submitted to the UN Security Council and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon a report on December 10 saying that the parties had failed to reach an agreement after "120 days of intensive negotiations."

At the latest talks in Austria in late November, Pristina continued to insist on full independence, while Belgrade was only willing to offer the province wide autonomy.

Kosovo has been a UN protectorate since 1999, when NATO's bombing of the former Yugoslavia ended a war between Serb forces and ethnic Albanians.

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