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Bush recognizes Kosovo's independence

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080218/ap_on_re_af/bush_kosovo Bush recognizes Kosovo s independence 21 minutes ago ARUSHA, Tanzania - President Bush on Monday
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 18, 2008
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080218/ap_on_re_af/bush_kosovo

      Bush recognizes Kosovo's independence

      21 minutes ago

      ARUSHA, Tanzania - President Bush on Monday recognized
      Kosovo's bold and historic bid for statehood, saying
      "The Kosavars are now independent."

      Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leadership announced its
      independence from Serbia over the weekend, and
      suspense gripped the province on Monday as its
      citizens awaited key backing from the United States
      and key European powers.

      "It's something that I've advocated along with my
      government," Bush said in an interview on NBC's
      "Today."

      By appealing directly to the U.S. and other nations
      for recognition, Kosovo's independence set up a
      showdown with Serbia — outraged at the imminent loss
      of its territory — and Russia.

      Kosovo had formally remained a part of Serbia even
      though it has been administered by the U.N. and NATO
      since 1999, when NATO airstrikes ended former Yugoslav
      leader Slobodan Milosevic's crackdown on ethnic
      Albanian separatists, which killed 10,000 people.

      In April 2007, U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari recommended
      that Kosovo be granted internationally supervised
      independence. But talks that followed failed to yield
      an agreement between the ethnic Albanian leadership,
      which pushed for full statehood, and Serbia, which was
      willing to offer only autonomy.

      "The Ahtisaari plan is our blueprint forward," Bush
      said. "We'll watch to see how the events unfold today.
      The Kosovars are now independent."

      Serbia made clear it would never accept Kosovo's
      statehood. On Monday, Serbia said it would seek to
      block Kosovo from gaining diplomatic recognition and
      membership in the U.N. and other international
      organizations.

      Russian President Vladimir Putin has argued that
      independence without U.N. approval would set a
      dangerous precedent for "frozen conflicts" across the
      former Soviet Union, where separatists in Chechnya and
      Georgia are agitating for independence.

      European Union nations have stood deeply divided over
      whether to recognize Kosovo's independence as their
      foreign ministers gathered in Brussels, Belgium, to
      try to forge a common stance. Britain, France, Germany
      and Ireland indicated they would push ahead with
      recognition. But Spain, which has struggled with its
      own separatist movement in the Basque region, called
      Kosovo's declaration illegal.

      On Sunday, Bush said the U.S. will work to prevent
      violent clashes following the historic announcement.

      "The United States will continue to work with our
      allies to do the very best we can to make sure there's
      no violence," Bush said several hours before Kosovo's
      parliament approved the declaration.

      ___

      Associated Press Writers William J. Kole and Nebi Qena
      in Pristina, Dusan Stojanovic in Kosovska Mitrovica
      and Jovana Gec in Belgrade contributed to this report.
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