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Serbia warns US and EU against recognizing Kosovo's independence

Serbia’s parliament will discuss a resolution Tuesday that warns of an "energetic response" against the United States and EU countries which might recognize Kosovo's independence without U.N. consent.

The draft resolution, prepared by Serbia's government, also says that "any unilateral recognition of Kosovo's independence would have unforeseeable consequences for regional stability."

It says Serbian authorities "must immediately and energetically respond to signs by any international subject which seeks to jeopardize (the) sovereignty and territorial integrity" of the Balkan country.

The resolution does not specify what measures Serbia would take against the countries that might recognize the province's independence, but government officials said they could include downgrading or even cutting of diplomatic ties with such states.

The parliamentary debate is expected to last for days.

Radical Party ultranationalist lawmakers, who are the biggest group in Serbia's parliament, are expected to call for even tougher measures - including military action - against Kosovo Albanians if they carry out their earlier threats to proclaim independence by the end of this year.

During a visit to Albania in June, U.S. President George W. Bush hinted that the U.S. could recognize Kosovo even without U.N. Security Council consent, saying there cannot be endless negotiations over its independence. Some EU countries indicated they may follow the U.S. lead.

On Monday in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reassured visiting Kosovo Albanians officials that Washington would push for recognition of the breakaway province's independence from Serbia within months.

The officials, including Kosovo's prime minister and president, told Rice that they would not upend new negotiations by unilaterally declaring independence, but would coordinate any move with the U.S.

The Serbian parliamentary debate comes just days after the U.S. and the EU were forced to withdraw their latest draft of a resolution on Kosovo's future from the Security Council. Russia, a veto-wielding member of the council and Serbia's close ally, opposed the resolution saying it contained a hidden route to independence.

Instead, the EU said Monday it will try to open a new round of talks between Serbia and its independence-seeking province through a multinational group outside the Security Council known as the Contact Group, which includes representatives of the U.S., Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Russia.

The group is scheduled to meet in Vienna on Wednesday. Officials said negotiations between the Serbs and Albanians could start again in August or September, with U.S., Russian and EU mediators initially shuttling between Belgrade and Pristina.

Although Kosovo formally remains a province of Serbia, it has been under U.N. and NATO administration since a 78-day NATO-led air war halted a Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in 1999.

In April, the U.N.'s special envoy on Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari, recommended Kosovo be granted internationally supervised independence.