U.S. criticizes Serbia's threats to cut diplomatic ties in case of Kosovo independence

The United States on Thursday criticized the Serbian ruling party's threats to cut diplomatic ties with countries that recognize any future independent Kosovo.

"We are very disappointed by this approach," the U.S. embassy in Belgrade said in a statement. "The United States would like to continue its dialogue with the Serbian people and their responsible leadership on the issues of interest to both our countries."

As its condition for joining Serbia's next government, the conservative Popular Coalition has demanded that the future Cabinet must reject Kosovo's independence and cut all ties with countries that recognize it as a separate country.

The hardline demand by outgoing Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's party came on the eve of Friday's formal presentation of a U.N. plan for Kosovo that is likely to grant the southern Serbian province some sort of internationally supervised independence.

"We hope that Serbia's leaders will form a democratic government soon and fulfill the wishes of the majority of the Serbian people to follow a constructive path toward Europe and toward Euro-Atlantic partnership," the U.S. embassy statement said.

Vladeta Jankovic, Kostunica's foreign policy adviser, on Thursday tried to dampen the diplomatic threat, saying Serbia would "selectively" decide on cutting ties, depending on which country spearheaded Kosovo's secession from Serbia, reports AP.

Kosovo has been a U.N. protectorate since a 1999 NATO air war that stopped a Serbian crackdown against separatist ethnic Albanian rebels. Kosovo Albanians, who account for 90 percent of the province's 2 million people, have rejected Serbia's offer of broad autonomy within Serb borders and want nothing less than independence.

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