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Bush to establish diplomatic ties with Kosovo

Latest update : 2008-02-19

US President George W. Bush on Tuesday recognised the independence of Kosovo from Serbia and said the US will establish full diplomatic relations with the majority Albanian country. (Report: C.Casali)

DAR ES SALAAM, Feb 19 (Reuters) - U.S. President George W.
Bush on Tuesday recognised the independence of Kosovo from
Serbia and said it would bring peace to the Balkans.
 
Bush said during an African tour in Dar es Salaam that the
United States would soon establish full diplomatic relations
with the majority Albanian country.
 
"On behalf of the American people, I hereby recognize Kosovo
as an independent and sovereign state," Bush said in a letter to
President Fatmir Sejdiu.
 
"I congratulate you and Kosovo's citizens for having taken
this important step in your democratic and national
development," Bush added, saying Washington was a partner and
friend to the new state.
 
He told reporters in Tanzania: "History will prove this will
be a correct move to bring peace to the Balkans. The United
States supports this move because we believe it will bring
peace".
 
He spoke before leaving Tanzania for Rwanda, on the third
leg of his tour. Bush was hailed here as a friend of Africa and
hundreds of people, including schoolchildren in uniform, lined
his route to the airport to bid him farewell.
 
Serbia has recalled its ambassador from Washington to
protest against American recognition of Kosovo, first announced
by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday, and Russia
strongly opposes independence.
 
The Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly
Churkin, called Kosovo's declaration "a blatant breach of the
norms and principles of international law".
 
But Bush said the United States had been in close touch with
Moscow and recognition "shouldn't come as a surprise".
He said Washington would work with Kosovo's leaders to
"carry out a smooth and peaceful transition".
 
"SINCERE FRIENDSHIP"
In his letter, Bush wrote: "On this historic occasion, I
note the deep and sincere bonds of friendship that unite our
people. This friendship, cemented during Kosovo's darkest hours
of tragedy, has grown stronger in the nine years since war in
Kosovo ended".
 
Washington's action, which was expected, followed
recognition of Kosovo by Europe's largest states -- France,
Britain, Italy and Germany, as well as some Muslim states like
Afghanistan. More countries are expected to follow suit, but
Spain said it would not recognise.
 
Washington, along with most European Union countries, says
Serbia relinquished the moral right to rule the people of Kosovo
because of brutality under late President Slobodan Milosevic.
Kosovo has been under United Nations supervision since 1999,
when NATO bombing forced a withdrawal of Serb forces that had
been attacking Albanians in the province. There are some 17,000
NATO-led troops in Kosovo.
 
Rice urge Belgrade to work with the United States to ensure
the protection of the Serbian community in Kosovo -- a region
with about 2 million Albanians, a 90 percent majority.
Bush also urged the protection of the Serbian minority in
Kosovo, saying he welcomed the new government desire "to reach
the highest standards of democracy and freedom".
He added: "In particular, I support your embrace of
multi-ethnicity as a principle of good governance and your
commitment to developing accountable institutions in which all
citizens are equal under the law."
 
Washington has said it will support Kosovo economically as
well as politically. A donors conference would be held soon in
Europe and the United States would give $335 million in aid to
Kosovo this year.
 

Date created : 2008-02-19

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