Rice presses for action on Kosovo independence

Kosovo will get its independence from Serbia "one way or another" despite Russia's objections at the United Nations, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday.

Rice presses for action on Kosovo independence
The United States is increasingly frustrated with Moscow's refusal to agree on a U.N. resolution that would lead to Kosovo's independence from Russian ally Serbia, leading to suggestions it will explore taking action outside of the 15-member Security Council.

Rice told reporters traveling with her to Lisbon for a meeting of the quartet of Middle East mediators that U.S. President George W. Bush had made it very clear that Kosovo should have its independence from Serbia.

"The United States is absolutely committed to that," said Rice, who will see Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Lisbon at the meeting of the quartet, which comprises the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

Asked whether the United States was prepared to move on Kosovo's path to independence outside of the United Nations, Rice said: "We are committed to an independent Kosovo and we will get there one way or another."

Serb Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic disagreed. "Imposing independence of Kosovo to Serbia outside the Security council is a guarantee to destabilize the Western Balkans," he told reporters.

Rice is set to discuss Kosovo with the foreign minister of Portugal, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, during her one-day trip to Lisbon.

"If there is no resolution in the Security Council over Kosovo, the EU could start negotiations to have some representatives on the ground (in Kosovo)," said Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado before meeting Rice.

Moscow rejects any move that would lead to Kosovo's independence and has said a draft European/U.S. text has "zero" chance of being adopted.
European foreign policy chief Javier Solana said this week if Russia failed to accept the text soon, 120 days of shuttle diplomacy between Belgrade and Pristina would be conducted under the authority of the major power Contact Group, where Russia has a seat but not a veto.

Kosovo, where 90 percent of the 2 million people are ethnic Albanians, has been run by the United Nations since NATO intervened in 1999 to halt the killing and expulsion of Albanians by Serb forces.

Kosovo Albanian leaders are due to meet Rice in Washington on Monday. Opposition leader Veton Surroi said he expected the meeting to clarify how the West intended to overcome the diplomatic impasse.

If the U.N. failed to act, he said Kosovo's parliament should declare independence by Christmas.

"When we go to Condoleezza Rice we should tell her what we want, and we should have a date (for independence)," he told a news conference in Pristina.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Temmuz 2007, 15:30
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