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Kosovo-Serbia Talks Continue, As Kosovo Serbs Reject Pristina's Authority


A Kosovar Serb woman with her child casts her ballot at a polling station in Kosovska Mitrovica.
European Union-brokered talks between Serbia and Kosovo are set to resume, just days after this week's vote by Kosovo Serbs to reject the authority of the territory's ethnic Albanian leaders.

A spokeswoman for EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton said on February 16 that the talks will be held on February 21 in Brussels.

The talks come as EU ministers are preparing to decide whether to move forward on Serbia's application to join the 27-member bloc.

Serbia has been told that progress on cooperation with Kosovo is critical for advancing its EU bid.

Belgrade has objected to this week's unofficial referendum in Serbian-majority northern Kosovo, in which residents almost unanimously voted "no" to recognizing the government in Pristina.

Leaders from the European Union and even Serbia had urged Kosovo's Serbs not to go ahead with the symbolic referendum.

Serbian President Boris Tadic said the vote would "not contribute to dialogue" between Belgrade and Pristina.

The commander of NATO peacekeepers in Kosovo, General Erhard Drews, said the referendum could stoke violence by extremist Albanians.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia four years ago. It has been recognized by most Western states, but Belgrade and Kosovar Serbs refuse to do so.

Some 40,000 Serbs live in enclaves in northern Kosovo.

With agency reports