Monday, October 02, 2006

State Department says Kosovo will be settled by talks, not by new Serbian constitution

WASHINGTON (AP) - A U.S. State Department spokesman in effect rejected on Monday the acceptance by the Serbian parliament of a constitution that would declare Kosovo irrevocably a part of Serbia.

Spokesman Tom Casey noted that the future of the rebellious province is being negotiated under a U.N. Security Council resolution in talks headed by a U.N. negotiator.

"Neither party is going to unilaterally decide this," Casey said. "This is going to be something that's going to have to be worked out among them through this negotiated process."

Kosovo, in southwestern Serbia beside Albania, has an ethnic Albanian majority population and has been under the administration of the United Nations since a U.S.-led 78-day bombing campaign ended a Serbian crackdown in 1999.

The Serbian parliament voted unanimously on Sunday for a constitution that would declare that "Kosovo always has been and always will be an integral part of Serbia," said Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica.

Serbians will vote on the constitution in an Oct. 28-29 referendum.

Because the State Department has not seen the text of the document, Casey said he had no comment on what was passed. But, he said: "The international community has made it clear how this issue of Kosovo's final status will be resolved, and that's through (the) negotiated process" currently under way.

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