RADE (AP)--Serbian President Boris Tadic said in an interview published Friday that he will never accept independence for Kosovo.
"As far as I am concerned, I will never sign any decision granting independence to Kosovo," Tadic told Glas daily.
Kosovo is formally part of Serbia, although the province has been an international protectorate since 1999, when a NATO bombing campaign halted Belgrade's crackdown against ethnic Albanian rebels.
Talks to determine Kosovo's future status are expected to start later this year under mediation by the United Nations. Kosovo's ethnic Albanians are seeking independence, but Belgrade officials want to keep the region within Serbia's borders.
Resolving the issue is considered crucial for stability in the Balkans, a region still recovering from the wars of the 1990s.
Tadic said the solution for Kosovo should be the result of a compromise. He added that the Belgrade delegation at the negotiations will seek to defend " Serbia's national interests."
"We will use all political and diplomatic means to defend them," Tadic was quoted as saying.
Thursday, the Serb negotiating team agreed on its platform for the talks, but revealed no details publicly.
Also Thursday, the leader of Serbia's Orthodox Church, Patriarch Pavle, called for a solution that would be acceptable to both sides.
The Serbs view Kosovo - the medieval seat of the Serbian state - as the cradle of their history, culture and statehood. Kosovo's ethnic Albanians, who make up a majority of the province's population, insist the region should become independent from Serbia.