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Kosovo division unacceptable - president Sejdiu

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The Albanian majority will withdraw from upcoming talks on the status of Kosovo if the issue of its division into Albanian and Serbian parts is raised, Kosovo's president said Tuesday.
BELGRADE, August 14 (RIA Novosti) - The Albanian majority will withdraw from upcoming talks on the status of Kosovo if the issue of its division into Albanian and Serbian parts is raised, Kosovo's president said Tuesday.

The Albanian-dominated province has been a UN protectorate since NATO's 78-day bombing campaign against the former Yugoslavia ended a conflict between Serb forces and Muslim Albanian separatists in 1999. The province has been striving for independence from Serbia ever since.

"The division of Kosovo is absolutely unacceptable to Kosovo's Albanians, and the territorial integrity of the province is inviolable," Fatmir Sejdiu said.

The leadership of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a banned ethnic Albanian paramilitary group which sought independence for the province from Yugoslavia and Serbia in the late 1990s, Tuesday supported Pristina's official position by saying "the division of Kosovo is a straight road to a new war [in the region]."

The idea of separating the Serbian-populated northern part of Kosovo from the rest of the province has been raised recently in Serbian and international political circles, but was categorically rejected by both Belgrade and Pristina.

Wolfgang Ischinger, an EU envoy to the talks, said last week that the division of Kosovo could be considered a way of breaking the current stalemate, and that the future of Serbia and Kosovo in Europe would depend on their ability to find a compromise.

However, the German official said in later interviews that his statements had been misinterpreted, and he described the division of Kosovo as "an improbable variant."

On Sunday, envoys from the so-called troika of the EU, U.S. and Russia ended a three-day visit to Belgrade and Pristina, where they met with the Serbian leadership, representatives of Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbs.

The troika was established July 25 to mediate during new Kosovo talks between Belgrade and Pristina as part of the Contact Group for Kosovo, which also includes France, Italy and Germany.

The EU and the U.S. have backed Kosovo's striving for independence, while Russia, a traditional Serbian ally, has opposed the move, saying it would violate Serbia's territorial integrity and set a dangerous precedent for breakaway republics in general.

A draft resolution on Kosovo by UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari, which would have ceded 15% of the Balkan state's territory, was voted down in the UN Security Council in July.

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