PRISTINA -- Senior Kosovo leaders have ruled out talks with Serbia over the flashpoint north as a European mediator began a two-day visit in a new bid to revive dialogue between two sides.
"The issue of the north is a matter of the rule of law," Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga told RFE/RL's Kosovo Service in Prague in a soon-to-be-published interview, "and because there, we have the illegal groups who are operating and they are a kind of obstacle for the daily lives of the citizens living in those three municipalities in the north of Kosovo."
Also on October 10, Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said in a statement that "Kosovo has a clear platform [for the talks] with red lines: the independence, territorial integrity and internal structure and system of Kosovo."
Thaci's comments came after his meeting with European Union mediator Robert Cooper in a fresh attempt to convince Pristina and Belgrade to resume their first talks since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February 2008.
The latest rise of tensions in northern Kosovo follow violent clashes in late July, when Serb protesters confronted Kosovo police who had tried to take control of two border posts to enforce a trade ban with Serbia.
with additional agency reporting