Serb Offer Sees Broad Autonomy

BADEN, Austria -- Serbia appealed to Kosovo Albanians on Tuesday to accept its offer of nearly all rights and symbols of an independent state, short of the republic they are demanding.

President Boris Tadic made the proposal at talks on the fate of the breakaway province in a bid to head off a unilateral declaration of independence.

But Serbian sources said the Albanians immediately rejected the idea, which appeared to resemble previous Serbian offers of broad autonomy short of the independence Kosovo demands.

As in past offers, it included access to international financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, considered crucial to the territory's future development.

But Tadic said Serbia "reserves the right to exclusive representation" in the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe.

Serbia would also "maintain the right to associate herself with the province's foreign policy, defense, border control and the protection of Serbian heritage" -- all red lines for Kosovo.

A Russian envoy said Tuesday that talks on the future status of Kosovo should continue beyond next month's UN deadline.

Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, Russia's representative in the talks, said Moscow would insist that the talks continue even after the Dec. 10 deadline.

AP, Reuters