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Serbia Rejects UN Kosovo Plan, West Urges Flexibility --> Ahtisaari presented his proposal in Belgrade and Pristina today (epa) February 2, 2007 -- Serbian leaders have rejected a UN proposal on the status of Kosovo.

The draft proposal , presented by United Nations envoy Martti Ahtisaari today, supports giving Kosovo access to international institutions, but does not explicitly refer to "independence."

But President Boris Tadic rejected the plan, saying it "opens the possibility of independence."

In a statement issued after meeting Ahtisaari, Tadic said Serbia would never accept the UN-administered province's independence.

"An imposed independence of Kosovo would be against international law and would be a very dangerous political and legal precedent," he said. "At the moment, the new Serbian parliament has not been constituted and we are at the beginning of negotiations over a new government. Therefore, I will call all leaders of parliamentary parties to inform them about Ahtisaari's plan. I hope we can find a way to defend [Serbia's] national interests." Serbia's outgoing Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica called the proposal "illegitimate."

And the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo, Bishop Artemije, described it as "unacceptable."

'Fair And Balanced'

But European officials urged Serbia and the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo to take a flexible and responsible approach to the draft, while the United States called the plan "fair and balanced."

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said it was "a blueprint for a stable, prosperous and multi-ethnic Kosovo."

Ahtisaari said he would invite the rival sides to meet again on February 13 for more negotiations before presenting the proposal to the UN Security Council.

(compiled from agency reports)

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