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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 January 2008, 21:04 GMT
Kosovo gets pro-independence PM
Kosovo's new PM Hashim Thaci in parliament
Mr Thaci failed to get a negotiated deal with the Serbs
Kosovo's parliament has approved a coalition government led by Hashim Thaci, a former guerrilla leader who is pushing for independence from Serbia.

Mr Thaci, 39, has pledged to steer the UN-administered province to formal independence in the next few weeks.

Parliament voted 85-22 to back Mr Thaci's Democratic Party in a coalition with the Democratic League of Kosovo.

The independence plan has support from most EU states and the US, but Serbia and Russia strongly oppose it.

"I assure you that within a few weeks we will declare independence," Mr Thaci told reporters after the coalition was approved.

'Tolerance'

He said the government's next steps would be closely coordinated with the US and the EU.

Mr Thaci also promised his government would try "to create a climate of tolerance in relations with minorities, especially with the Serb community".

He called on Serbs who have fled Kosovo in fear of attacks by ethnic Albanian extremists to return to the province.

In November 2007 Serbian and Kosovo Albanian leaders failed to reach agreement at talks aimed at settling Kosovo's status.

Kosovo has been run by the UN since 1999, when a Nato bombing campaign drove Serb forces out. They had cracked down violently on pro-independence ethnic Albanians, some of whom had taken up arms.

Ethnic Albanians form about 90% of Kosovo's population.

Mr Thaci's Democratic Party emerged out of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), the rebel group that fought Serb forces in the 1990s.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Kosovo's new PM talks of independence plans





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