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Serbs Counting on Russian Help at UN

BELGRADE -- Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica is counting on Russia's help at a United Nations Security Council session Tuesday to block a plan giving independence to Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo.

No one but Moscow knows whether that help will come as more time to negotiate an alternative solution or as an overt threat to veto a new UN resolution.

"Russia's support in the Security Council will enable Serbia to maintain its territorial integrity and sovereignty," Kostunica said before leaving for New York. He said the plan by UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari would fail because it was "illegal."

Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority demands independence, saying eight years of limbo has resulted in poverty.

With compromise seemingly impossible, the United States and the European Union believe "supervised independence" under an EU mission is the only way to avoid renewed violence in the Balkans.

Veto holder Russia, Serbia's ally, advocates further talks between Serbia and Kosovo Albanians but has sent mixed signals as to whether it will block the plan.

(The Moscow Times 03.iv.07)

 
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