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Serbia's Tadic Accepts Montenegrin Independence Vote --> Supporters of Montenegrin independence wave Montenegrin national flags in Podgorica on May 18 (epa) May 23, 2006 -- Serbian President Boris Tadic today said he accepted the result of the referendum in which Montenegro voted for independence.

"As president of Serbia, I accept the preliminary official results announced by the [Montenegrin] referendum commission," he said at a news conference in Belgrade. He added that he recognized the expression of the "free will" of the Montenegrin citizens.

Earlier, European Union Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said the EU is aiming to offer membership eventually to Montenegro, following the referendum.

Rehn said that the European Commission will recommend talks on closer ties with the new Balkan state, paving the way for it to join the union.

A full vote count issued today confirmed that 55.5 percent of Montenegrin voters opted for the country's separation from Serbia.

Russia's Foreign Ministry also said it accepted the referendum results. And the breakaway regions of Abkhazia in Georgia and Transdniester in Moldova welcomed the vote, with Abkhazia's leader saying it sets a precedent.

(compiled from agency reports)

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