US urges full support for UN Kosovo plan

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PRISTINA, Serbia, Feb 5 (Reuters) The United States today urged support for a United Nations blueprint for the eventual independence of Serbia's Kosovo province, which Russia says must first win the backing of Belgrade.

''The United States believes that this is an excellent proposal,'' Washington's Kosovo envoy, Frank Wisner, told reporters in the Kosovo capital, Pristina.

''It deserves full support.'' UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari on Friday unveiled a plan which -- though he did not say explicitly -- would set Kosovo on the path to independence, almost eight years since NATO bombs wrested control of the majority Albanian province from Serbia.

Top European Union foreign policy officials were in Moscow today to try to win over Russia to the plan, which needs a new UN Security Council resolution to take effect.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that Moscow and Washington still had ''no common vision'' of how the issue should be resolved.

He said Ahtisaari's document should provide the basis for further talks between Serbs and Albanians and any attempt to send it straight to the Security Council would be ''futile and counterproductive.'' Wisner said he would travel to Moscow at the end of the week.

''I will be making the point that what was begun together should end together,'' he said.

Russia, Serbia's sometime Orthodox ally, holds a veto in the UN Security Council and has insisted any solution on Kosovo should have Belgrade's backing.

Kosovo, where 90 percent of the 2 million people are ethnic Albanians, has been run by the United Nations since 11 weeks of NATO bombing in 1999 drove out Serb forces accused of killing and expelling civilians in a two-year counter-insurgency war.

Ahtisaari mediated months of fruitless Serb-Albanian talks in 2006. He has invited Serbia and the Kosovo Albanians to fresh consultations between Feb 13 and March 2 in Vienna before sending the final proposal to the Security Council.

Serbia, which is trying to form a new coalition government after an inconclusive January election, has yet to confirm it will attend.

Wisner encouraged both sides to take part. ''If anyone does not attend, that's his decision,'' he added.


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