BELGRADE (AP)--Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has vowed never to accept independence for Kosovo, a top Serbian opposition leader said Wednesday.
Nationalist leader Tomislav Nikolic said that he spoke to Kostunica on Tuesday and that the conservative premier pledged that no state officials would sign any deal granting independence to the U.N.-run province.
"I trust Kostunica and I say publicly that if he is lying to me he's lying to the whole of Serbia," Nikolic told the Serbian parliament Wednesday. Kostunica has publicly expressed his opposition to independence for Kosovo numerous times.
Kosovo formally remains part of Serbia, although Belgrade has had no authority over its southern province since 1999, when NATO bombing ended a Serb crackdown on Kosovo's separatist ethnic Albanians and forced Belgrade to relinquish control to the United Nations and NATO.
Kosovo's final status is yet to be determined. Talks are expected to start later this year.
Serbia wants to keep the province at least formally within its borders, while Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanians insist it should gain independence.
Kostunica has proposed that Kosovo be granted full autonomy from Serbian rule but not territorial independence. [ 11-05-05 1439GMT ]