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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 November 2007, 19:09 GMT
No agreement in Kosovo discussion
Election posters in Kosovo
All of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian politicians support independence
Serbian and Kosovo Albanian leaders have failed to reach agreement at talks aimed at settling the status of the UN-administered province.

The Kosovo Albanian delegation included former guerrilla Hashim Thaci, who claimed victory in polls last weekend boycotted by Kosovo's Serb minority.

He 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.

Kosovo is nominally part of Serbia but has been administered by the UN since 1999, when a Nato assault drove out Serb security forces accused of repressing the Albanian majority.

Kosovo's Albanians have been campaigning for independence - but the province's minority Serbs and the government in Belgrade oppose this.

International efforts to reach a deal have so far failed, with Moscow lending its weight to Serbia's stance at the UN Security Council.

'Hong Kong model'

Tuesday's meeting in Brussels was mediated by a "troika" of envoys - representatives of the EU, US and Russia.

We need on this issue a soft landing rather than a big bang - the Balkans is a rather fragile place
Carl Bildt
Swedish Foreign Minister

The envoys said a further round of last-ditch discussions was scheduled to take place later this month in Vienna.

European leaders have warned Kosovo's Albanians against declaring independence without securing broader international support.

"Kosovo should have her independence [but] it shouldn't be an unmanaged, unilateral declaration - it should be one that is co-ordinated with the international community," the UK's Europe minister, Jim Murphy, said on Monday.

Mr Murphy said "well above 20" EU member states backed independence for the breakaway province but that they had not "got to 27 yet".

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said a "soft landing" rather than a "big bang" was required in order to maintain stability in the region.

At least five European countries, including Greece and Romania, fear independence for Kosovo would encourage separatist trends in the Balkans and elsewhere in Europe.

Parliamentary elections on Saturday gave Mr Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) just over a third of the vote, according to nearly complete results.

They said the rival Democratic League of Kosovo (LKD), which had dominated Kosovo politics in recent years, trailed in second place with 22%.

"We will declare independence immediately after 10 December," Mr Thaci told cheering supporters as results came in.

According to election officials, the turnout for the was around 45%, the lowest since 1999.

The Serbian government had called on ethnic Serbs not to vote so as to avoid giving the new government legitimacy.



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