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    Belgium recognizes Kosovo's independence

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    Belgium has formally recognized Kosovo's unilateral independence, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.

    BRUSSELS, February 26 (RIA Novosti) - Belgium has formally recognized Kosovo's unilateral independence, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.

    Kosovo's parliament declared independence for the province from Serbia on February 17. Belgrade called the move illegal. However, the United States and over a dozen Western countries have recognized Kosovo's independence.

    King Albert II of Belgium signed on Monday an according order approving the decision made by the country's government last week. The recognition of Kosovo by Brussels will come into force once Pristina receives the official letter of confirmation.

    Russia remains a staunch opponent of Kosovo's independence.

    Addressing Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica at talks in Belgrade on Monday, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev reaffirmed that Moscow would maintain its firm stand on the territorial integrity of Serbia.

    "We believe that Serbia is a unified state, whose jurisdiction extends over its entire territory, and we will maintain this position in the future," Medvedev said.

    "It is unacceptable that for the first time in the post-war history, a country [Serbia], which is a member of the United Nations, has been divided in violation of all principles used in resolving territorial conflicts," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Russia's Vesti 24 television channel on Monday.

    Protests against Kosovo's independence, the largest in Serbia's history, turned into street riots in Belgrade last week leaving at least 130 people injured and 192 rioters arrested.

    Protesters attacked the embassies of the United States, Croatia, Belgium and Turkey, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails.

    The U.S. embassy suffered the most damage and several floors were set on fire. U.S. diplomats later said that the remains of a charred body had been discovered in the building. The body was identified on Saturday as a Serb national.

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