'No to unilateral independence for Kosovo'

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Moscow, Jan 5: Russia today reiterated its warning against the declaration of unilateral independence for Kosovo as the UN Security Council is preparing to discuss the issue.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Yakovenko said the proclamation of the province's unilateral independence, without a relevant UN decision, would be ''unlawful''. ''We are convinced that a negotiated settlement of the Kosovo problem is still possible,'' RIA Novosti news agency quoted Mr Yakovenko as saying in a statement. The Security Council will discuss a report by the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) on January 16.

A report of the Secretary-General on the UNMIK said, ''While the Unity Team continued to attend the Troika-led talks, its representatives repeatedly stated that any further extension of talks would be unacceptable.'' ''Public pressure on the new Government and Assembly to act swiftly to declare independence following the end of the period of engagement is high,'' it said.

Mr Yakovenko said the main outcome of the Security Council's work on Kosovo in 2007 was to prevent a unilateral decision on Kosovo's independence, adding that the Kosovo problem could only be resolved through negotiations.

The Security Council failed last year to bridge divisions over the future of Kosovo.

Most Western countries are seeking independence for the volatile area, which has been a UN protectorate since NATO bombings of the former Yugoslavia ended a war between Albanians and Serb forces in 1999.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has earlier repeatedly warned Moscow would use its veto power at the Security Council, if a decision on Kosovo's unilateral independence was made.

Some other Security Council members, including Cyprus and Greece, have also opposed a unilateral declaration of sovereignty by Kosovo, saying it would set a precedent for separatist regions on their territories.


UNI

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