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Kosovo dismisses notion of partition - extended

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Kosovo leaders on Wednesday dismissed the notion of Kosovo partition and vowed to keep the province intact, news reports from Pristina said. Serbs, ethnic Albanians remain bitterly divided as new Kosovo talks get under way.

“The independence and territorial integrity of Kosovo is non-negotiable,” Kosovo President Fatmir Sedjiu said. Dutch Foreign Minister Maxim Verhagen said on Tuesday on his tour to Belgrade and Pristina that his government will accept any negotiated solution to the Kosovo issue, including a partition of the province. “Should both parties be willing to accept a solution that is both sustainable and possible to implement, the Netherlands government would find it acceptable,” Verhagen was reported as saying. Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku also dismissed the very notion of the province’s partition as acceptable. “We can never approve of partition. It is unacceptable,” Ceku said, “If we start redrawing borders, who knows when and where it will stop.”

Kosovo, Serbia’s southern breakaway province, has been run by the United Nations since 1999 after 78 days of NATO bombing drove out the Serbian forces fighting Albanian separatists. Serbia has stated repeatedly that Kosovo is an integral part of its territory and vowed to keep it, while Kosovo, where 90% of its population are ethnic Albanians, had said it will accept nothing short of its independence. A troika of envoys from the United States, the European Union and Russia will chair a new round of talks on the final status of Kosovo in Vienna later this month.

 
Ethnic Albanian and Serbian negotiators prepared to open a new round of internationally brokered talks Thursday on the future status of Kosovo, but officials said a breakthrough was unlikely. Both rival sides remain entrenched, with the breakaway province's majority Albanians refusing to budge from their demands for full independence from Serbia, and the Serbs insistent on retaining Kosovo as part of their territory. Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku Thursday told The Associated Press: “No more delay. We cannot afford further uncertainty. We need a decision.” Ceku said his delegation would press for the talks to “open a way for us to declare independence.” If that doesn't happen, he said, “we have to declare and we are going to ask the international community to recognize us.” (people.com.cn, iht.com)

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