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Moscow wants Kosovo on the agenda of Russia-EU summit

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MOSCOW, October 9 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow wants the issue of Serbia's secessionist province of Kosovo to be put on the agenda of the Russia-EU summit in Portugal on October 26, a senior Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday.

The status of Kosovo, now 90% populated by ethnic Albanians, has been a contentious international issue ever since NATO's 1999 bombing campaign ended a conflict between Serb troops and Albanian separatists. Serbia has offered Kosovo broad autonomy, but Kosovo Albanians insist on full sovereignty.

"We would like to discuss the situation in Kosovo along with topics traditionally discussed by the EU," Sergei Ryabkov, head of the Foreign Ministry's European cooperation department, said, in reference to so-called "frozen conflicts" in former Soviet republics.

Russia's position is that Kosovo could serve as a precedent for resolving the situations in the Russia-leaning republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia, and Transdnestr in Moldova, which have been seeking independence since the demise of the Soviet Union.

"It is clear to us that the precedent of Kosovo will most likely be used," Ryabkov said.

Kosovo has been a UN protectorate since 1999. Its independence has been backed by the United States and the EU, but opposed by Russia, which has a veto on the UN Security Council and wants the solution to be based on a compromise between Belgrade and Pristina, and compliance with UN resolutions relating to humanitarian issues and the return of refugees and displaced persons to the region.

Commenting on preparations for the summit, the Russian diplomat said that its agenda was at the stage of coordination, and comprised three parts.

"The first is on relations between Russia and the EU, prospects for talks on a new [partnership and cooperation] agreement, and work to implement road maps," Ryabkov said.

The second part concerns the situation in the EU and domestic Russian issues that are of concern to Europe, while the third part relates to issues of international importance.

Ryabkov said that besides Kosovo, the priority international issues include Iran, the November conference on the Middle East in Washington, and the situation in Afghanistan.

The official said Russia would also like to discuss the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty and U.S. plans for deploying components of its missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, although these issues are beyond the jurisdiction of the EU as a whole.

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