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Serbia ready to meet all international obligations in full

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Belgrade, June 9, 2005 - Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, President Boris Tadic, and Head of the Coordinating Centre for Kosovo-Metohija Nebojsa Covic stressed in a meeting with a US State Department delegation led by Under Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns that Serbia is ready to meet all its international obligations in full and they concluded that it is necessary to achieve progress in Kosovo-Metohija when it comes to democratic standards, especially in the field of human rights, the return of displaced persons, and the freedom of movement.

Kostunica pointed out that the Serbian government is open for dialogue with representatives of Kosovo-Metohija's provisional institutions and that it is ready to seek a solution in the form of expanded autonomy, which would include the preservation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.

Kostunica stressed that a change of borders in the Balkans would destabilise the region and that it is necessary to push ahead with efforts to improve human rights in Kosovo-Metohija, primarily the return of Serb and other non-Albanian refugees.

According to him, the government is ready for any compromise solution within the existing and internationally recognised borders of Serbia-Montenegro.

Serbian President Boris Tadic described the US delegation's visit as a contribution to stability in this part of Europe.

Tadic pointed to the importance of an objective assessment of standards in Kosovo-Metohija by US Secretary-General's Special Representative Kai Aide. He added that the issue of standards is a key issue for talks on Kosovo-Metohija's future status and that Belgrade wants to play an active role in that process.

Tadic called for dialogue between the Serbian and ethnic-Albanian sides and he expressed regret that Rugova and Kosumi have not accepted invitations for talks. He said that Serbia expects support from the US for the realisation of these talks.

An independent Kosovo would open a big problem and contribute to destabilisation in the region, said Tadic and stressed the importance of preserving multi-ethnicity in Kosovo-Metohija and the return of all displaced persons.

Head of the Coordinating Centre for Kosovo-Metohija Nebojsa Covic said that it is very important that Special Representative Kai Aide is not exposed to any pressure when reviewing standards, because there must be no compromise in giving an objective picture on the state of standards in Kosovo-Metohija.

Covic stressed that Belgrade is actively involved in the work of most working groups in Kosovo-Metohija and that it is particularly important to find a way to include Belgrade in the work of the working group on decentralisation in Kosovo-Metohija.

He said that a solution for Kosovo-Metohija must be sought within Serbia-Montenegro's internationally recognised borders, with a full respect of the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns pointed out the importance of forging closer ties between Serbia-Montenegro and the US and he stressed that he expects a further positive development of relations between the two countries.

Burns welcomed the fact that the US is the largest foreign investor in Serbia as well as Washington's support to Serbia-Montenegro's accession to the EU and the Partnership for Peace.

Speaking about the resolving of the Kosovo-Metohija problem, Burns said that the US wants to be an objective partner in that process, without accepting any of the proposed solutions in advance, and he added that it would also be wrong for any of the Contact Group members to take an individual stance.

The US's role is unbiased mediation and the creation of a framework for negotiations, said Burns and added talks on Kosovo-Metohija's final status will begin after the assessment of standards. Burns also stressed the importance of an active role of Belgrade and the Serb community in Kosovo-Metohija in that process.

The representatives of the Serbian authorities welcomed the announced full normalisation of relations between Serbia-Montenegro and the US and they stressed that such a development would have a positive impact on the entire region.