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Splitting Kosovo 'still an option'

  • Story Highlights
  • Diplomatic troika leading Kosovo talks says dividing the territory still an option
  • Western policy previously ruled out partition as potential spark for conflict
  • Diplomats from the U.S., EU and Russia make up the troika
  • They said Sunday partition possible if Serbs and Albanians agree to it
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PRISTINA, Serbia (Reuters) -- The diplomatic troika leading new talks on Kosovo says that dividing the territory remained an option if Serbs and Albanians agreed to it.

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Kosovan Albanians hold a protest in front of government building in Pristina on Saturday. They are seeking an independent state.

Western policy on Kosovo has previously ruled out partition as a potential spark for regional conflict. Any partition would be likely to leave the Serb-dominated north as part of Serbia.

"It is the principle of the troika to be prepared to endorse any agreement which both parties manage to achieve. That includes all options," the European Union's envoy on the troika, Wolfgang Ischinger, told a news conference Sunday.

Asked if that included splitting the territory in two, he replied: "If they want that."

Other members of the troika are the United States and Russia.

Western diplomats have argued that splitting Kosovo in two could revive insurgencies among ethnic Albanians in Serbia's southern Presevo Valley and neighboring Macedonia.

Envoys from the troika were on their first visit to Kosovo since Moscow blocked a U.N. plan to give Kosovo independence at the U.N. Security Council.

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The territory has been run by the United Nations since 1999, when NATO carried out a bombing campaign to drive out Serb forces and halt the killing and expulsion of Albanians during a two-year separatist war.

Kosovo's 90-percent Albanian majority demands independence. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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