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    EU to approve new mission in Kosovo after Serbia polls - 2

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    The European Union's foreign policy chief said on Tuesday that the EU will sanction the dispatch of a police force to Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo after the country's presidential election.

    (Adds Russian Foreign Ministry comments in last three paras)

    BRUSSELS, January 29 (RIA Novosti) - The European Union's foreign policy chief said on Tuesday that the EU will sanction the dispatch of a police force to Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo after the country's presidential election.

    "The EU will be ready to give a formal go-ahead to the mission a few days after the election," Belgian media quoted Javier Solana as saying.

    The 27-nation bloc plans to send a 1,800-strong mission including lawyers and police to the Albanian-dominated region, which is expected to unilaterally declare its independence within weeks.

    Serbia will hold a presidential election runoff next Sunday after pro-Russian nationalist candidate Tomislav Nikolic took a five-point lead in last Sunday's first round over incumbent pro-European leader Boris Tadic.

    The foreign ministers of EU countries approved the principals of the new mission in Kosovo at talks in Brussels on Monday.

    The EU is anxious to deploy the force before the province declares its sovereignty. The new mission to be reinforced by a NATO contingent is expected to replace a UN mission that has been deployed in the region since the NATO bombing of the former Yugoslavia ended a conflict between Albanian and Serb forces in 1999.

    The decision was made after international mediators failed to broker a deal between Serbia and Kosovo, with Belgrade offering the region broad autonomy and Kosovo Albanians insisting on full independence.

    Moscow continues to press for a compromise on the issue, saying Kosovo will never be a fully recognized state.

    Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesman said that any changes to the international security forces stationing in Kosovo must be approved by the Security Council and supported by Pristinia, as well as Belgrade.

    "Any changes to the nature, composition or action plan of the international civilian mission in Kosovo requires a new Security Council decision," Mikhail Kamynin said in a statement published on Tuesday.

    The spokesman also said that Moscow hopes the UN and the EU will not take unilateral steps on Kosovo, which could set a "destructive precedent in international affairs."

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