WASHINGTON - Kosovo told Washington on Monday that it did not plan to
unilaterally declare independence from Serbia in November, senior officials from
the United States and Kosovo said.
Kosovo's leaders gave the
assurance during a meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in
Washington, spokesman for the Kosovo delegation Skender Hyseni, said. US
officials confirmed the message was one of cooperation rather than going it
A protest calling for a referendum in central Pristina, June
30, 2007. [Reuters]
Serbia opposes independence for Kosovo, seen by many Serbs as their spiritual
"Today the (Kosovo) unity team once again reassured the United States that we
remain close partners of both the United States and the European Union in
bringing the independence process to a close," Hyseni told Reuters after the
Kosovo's Prime Minister Agim Ceku, who met with Rice along with other senior
Kosovo officials, had suggested on Friday he could ask the province's parliament
to declare independence from Serbia on November 28.
Kosovo's apparent threat to act unilaterally came after the United Nations
put aside a resolution on Kosovo's independence when Russia, a close ally of
Serbia, said it would use its Security Council veto to block the resolution.
"Kosovo never said actually it was going to declare independence unilaterally
without having consulted with our key partners in the international community,"
The United States, while supporting Kosovo's independence, feared any move by
Kosovo to act independently could lead to violence in the breakaway province.
US officials relieved
US officials voiced relief after the meeting.
"They made clear that the intensity of their desire for independence has not
and will not change, but they will not go off on their own. They will work with
the United States and Europe," said a senior Bush administration official who
attended the meeting with Rice.
He said Rice had urged patience on the part of Kosovo but she also stressed
the US commitment to independence.
"She talked about the need for all of us to do this together, working
together," said the official, who spoke to reporters on condition he was not
With the UN route closed for the moment because of Russia's opposition, the
so-called Contact Group, composed of Russia, the United States, Britain, France,
Italy and Germany is expected to conduct talks with all sides for 120 days.
The Contact Group meets on Wednesday in Vienna but no one country has veto
rights, as Russia does in the UN Security Council.
Another senior Bush administration official said he expected the 120-day
period of shuttle diplomacy on Kosovo's status should begin very soon but he
could not give an exact date.
Kosovo, where 90 percent of the 2 million people are ethnic Albanians, has
been run by the United Nations since 1999, when a NATO bombing campaign forced
out Serbian troops who were killing and expelling Albanians in a two-year war
Serbia's foreign minister, Vuk Jeremic, is due in Washington on Friday for
talks with Rice.