PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) - Kosovo lawmakers on Thursday adopted a resolution stating that they will accept nothing less than independence in the U.N.-mediated talks on the future of the province.
The lawmakers, under pressure from U.S. and European diplomats, backed down from an earlier intention to unilaterally declare independence as they discussed their position in upcoming talks on the province's long-term future.
The 10-point resolution set the stage for a bitter political fight in the talks with Serbia, which insists the province should not gain independence but rather enjoy broad autonomy within the current union that replaced Yugoslavia.
The approved resolution stated that the province will accept nothing less than full independence and sovereignty for Kosovo, which has been run by the U.N. since mid-1999.
"The will of the people of Kosovo for independence is not negotiable," the resolution said.
The resolution, which will serve as the basis of the political platform for the ethnic Albanians in the talks, also welcomes the future international involvement demands that every move by Kosovo's negotiators be approved in the parliament or by referendum.
The Serbian government on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution rejecting independence for Kosovo in the U.N.-mediated talks expected to begin next month.
Sabri Hamiti, a senior member of the ruling Democratic League of Kosovo, said the toning down of the Kosovo position came after "immense pressure" from Western diplomats.
U.S. and European diplomats had warned ethnic Albanian leaders that they would consider a declaration of independence unilateral and would not accept it. The top U.N. official in Kosovo, Soren Jessen-Petersen, has the power to declare such a declaration illegal.
Serbian representatives in the province's assembly continued their boycott.
However, in Kosovo's northern, ethnically divided city of Kosovksa Mitrovica, some 200 Serb representatives of a self-styled council of Kosovo Serb municipalities adopted their own declaration warning that if the province became independent, that would be the "final stage in the cleansing of Serbs" from the province.
It will constitute the "greatest pogrom of Serbs in history," the declaration said.
Kosovo has been run by the United Nations since the end of the NATO air war that halted Serb forces' crackdown on separatist ethnic Albanians.
The U.N. envoy to mediate talks on Kosovo's future, Finland's former President Martti Ahtisaari, was expected to visit Kosovo and Belgrade next week and move to Vienna, Austria, in December to start the negotiations.