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Talks on Kosovo status yield no result
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09:05, November 21, 2007

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Direct talks between Serbian and Kosovo Albanian leaders ended here on Tuesday without making any breakthrough over Kosovo's future status.

Neither of the parties changed their previous positions: Belgrade offers broad autonomy, while the breakaway Serbian province wants a full independence.

"Pristina described its vision of Kosovo's supervised independence in line with the recommendations of U.N. special envoy Martti Ahtisaari," said a statement from European Union, Russian and U.S. mediators.

"Belgrade continued to elaborate to Pristina its vision of a highly autonomous Kosovo inside the borders of Serbia."

But the parties and their troika mediators will meet again in Baden, Austria on Nov. 26-28 to try hard to clinch a compromise.

Both parties reaffirmed their commitment to refrain from making acts or statements that could undermine the security situation in Kosovo, where 90 percent of its residents are ethnic Albanians.

Fatmir Sejdiu, president of the breakaway Serbian province, told reporters in Brussels before the talks began that independence would be achieved in coordination with all the countries "that are helping Kosovo," adding there were "absolutely no alternatives" to independence for the province.

International mediators will present a report to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon by Dec. 10, a deadline imposed by the United States but opposed by Belgrade.

"We will use a couple more days for the necessary consultations and afterwards the assembly of Kosovo will take its own decision," Sejdiu said.

Former rebel leader Hashim Thaci, who is among the Kosovo delegation for talks here, said Kosovo would not rush into declaring independence.

"Kosovo will do nothing without coordination with our partners in Washington and Brussels," said Thaci, who is expected to be Kosovo's next prime minister after Saturday's parliamentary elections.

"We will respect the agenda of the international community and after Dec. 10, through cooperation with Washington and Brussels, we will take our decision for independence," he added.

His remarks made on Monday that Kosovo's parliament would announce independence immediately after the deadline drew criticism from some EU countries.

So far several face-to-face talks under the mediation of the so-called Troika have been held.

The United States backs independence, while Russia opposes it.

The 27-nation EU is divided on the matter as some are reluctant to support Kosovo's independence while others are willing to recognize it.

Some EU foreign ministers urged Kosovan authorities to coordinate any subsequent independence moves with international allies.

Kosovo, which legally remains a Serbian province, has been under U.N. administration since 1999. The 2 million predominantly ethnic Albanian population insists on independence instead of broad autonomy offered by Serbia.


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