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    Serb PM hits out at U.S. over plan for Kosovo military aid

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    A decision to permit U.S. arms deliveries to Kosovo is "another profoundly mistaken step" by Washington, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said on Thursday.

    BELGRADE, March 20 (RIA Novosti) - A decision to permit U.S. arms deliveries to Kosovo is "another profoundly mistaken step" by Washington, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said on Thursday.

    On Wednesday, U.S. President George Bush signed a presidential order authorizing military aid to Kosovo, saying that, "the furnishing of defense articles and defense services to Kosovo will strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace."

    Kosovo declared unilateral independence from Serbia on February 17. It has so far been recognized by the majority of Western countries, including the U.S. and most EU member states.

    "Instead of sending more arms to [Kosovo] Albanians, what is really needed is for the U.S. to resume respecting international law and the UN Charter. Kosovo needs new talks and not new weapons," Kostunica told the Belgrade-based newspaper Vecernje Novosti.

    He said the decision to launch arms supplies confirmed that "the first state under the NATO aegis" had been established.

    Kostunica said the move could aggravate problems caused by the violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which guaranteed Serbia's territorial integrity, and Washington's approval of the "illegitimate declaration" of independence by Pristina.

    The Serbian premier also said his nation had not forgotten "the policy of force" applied by the U.S. in 1999 when the former Yugoslavia suffered 78 days of bombing as NATO sought to end a conflict between Kosovo's majority Albanian separatists and Serb forces.

    Serbia's long time ally, Russia, is vehemently opposed to Kosovo's independence, saying the move could serve as a precedent that could trigger a chain reaction in other secessionist regions.

    Russia's envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin said on Thursday that he would discuss the decision to authorize military assistance to Kosovo at a Russia-NATO Council session.

    The worst violence to hit the region since Pristina declared independence broke out in the north of Kosovo on Monday as rioters attacked UN peacekeepers after an operation to retake a UN court building earlier seized by ethnic Serb protestors.

    A Ukrainian member of the UN police force in Kosovo later died of wounds sustained during the violence and scores of people, both ethnic Serbs and UN personnel, were injured.

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