Russia opposes setting deadlines at Kosovo negotiations:Lavrov

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Moscow, Nov 22 (UNI) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today said Moscow strongly opposes setting any deadlines at the Kosovo status negotiations.

''There must be no pre-set results or artificial deadlines,'' Mr Lavrov said here after talks with his Serbian counterpart Vuk Jeremic.

'That is the principle of Russia and the whole Troika Contact Group,' he added.

''Russia and Serbia think alike - there is no solution but the one based on international law and what results from negotiations," he noted.

Earlier during the talks with Mr Jeremic, Mr Lavorv said the moves fraught with undermining stability in the Balkans should be avoided in the settlement of the Kosovo problem.

''The situation in Kosovo cannot be considered separately from the situation in the Balkans in general," Itar-Tass quoted him as saying.

''We and our Serbian friends have similar approaches to how the problems of stability in this region should be resolved,'' the Minister said, stressing that it was necessary to avoid any decisions or moves which might create unwelcome, illegal precedents that would undermine stability in the Balkans and beyond.

He also said the Kosovo issue remains within the competence of the UN Security Council, under UN control and that only this body could make a decision on the Kosovo status.

Russia assumed that the decision on the Kosovo status should be based on international law and that the outcome should be acceptable for Belgrade and Pristina, he added.

''The urgency of today's meeting is determined by the upcoming report by the Troika - the Russia-EU-US Contact Group - devoted to the search for negotiable solutions on Kosovo,'' Mr Lavrov informed.

For his part, Mr Jeremic said his country was ready for a compromise.

''We should be flexible, but there is 'the red line' we cannot cross," he said, adding ''Its sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. I am confident that there is a compromise solution on the Kosovo status.'' Last Tuesday, Serbian and Kosovo Albanian leaders failed to reach agreement at talks aimed at settling the status of the UN-administered province.

The Kosovo leader Hashim Thaci, who claimed victory in polls recently, boycotted by Kosovo's Serb minority, has said Kosovo could declare independence if talks fail to yield a deal by 10 December - the UN deadline.

Serbs oppose this and the EU has warned Mr Thaci against unilateral action, with Moscow lending its weight to Serbia's stance at the UN Security Council.

UNI

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