BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) - Serbia's prime minister said Saturday that he would never accept the granting of independence to the republic's U.N.-run Kosovo province.
Vojislav Kostunica spoke shortly before leaving Belgrade for New York where he will head Serbia's delegation at a key United Nations Security Council session on Kosovo on Monday.
The Security Council is expected to announce the start of U.N-mediated talks -- possibly as early as next month -- which are to determine the future status of Serbia's volatile province.
Kosovo, formally part of Serbia, has been an international protectorate for more than six years and its majority ethnic Albanian population overwhelmingly favors independence for the region.
But Kostunica said Serbia would never accept such "legal violence" against Serbia.
"Kosovo is an integral part of Serbia, always has been and must remain that way," Kostunica said.
Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations and NATO since the Alliance launched an air war in 1999 against Serbia to end its crackdown against separatist ethnic Albanians.
The Kosovo status is a tense issue, as the ethnic Albanians refuse to settle for anything less than independence and Serbia insists the region must not break away.
Kostunica said that Serbia is "ready for a compromise," which would include "substantial autonomy" for Kosovo but within the boundaries of Serbia-Montenegro.
Kosovo's ethnic Albanians in the past have rejected such offers from Belgrade.