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RP: Seek negotiated settlement to Kosovo independence row

First Posted 13:04:00 02/19/2008

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippines said Tuesday it does not oppose Kosovo's independence but would prefer a negotiated settlement acceptable to all parties, after Indonesia and China expressed reservations.

"Considering the existing sensibilities in the region, continued dialogue should be encouraged among all the parties concerned to ensure regional stability," Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo said in a statement.

He said the government "would prefer a settlement of the issue...taking into account the internationally accepted principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity."

The country is concerned about its own Muslim separatist movement in Mindanao, where the government is in talks with the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front on granting significant autonomy to Muslims.

Indonesia said Monday it regretted Kosovo's unilateral declaration, a move that reflects Jakarta's concern that the pronouncement could energize its own separatist movements. China, too, expressed "deep concern."

For Beijing, the announcement conjures up the possibility that Taiwan could someday make a similar unilateral independence declaration, something China says it would respond to with military force.

Afghanistan and Australia recognized Kosovo's independence Tuesday, following a similar move by the US and the European Union's biggest powers. Russia and Serbia are vehemently opposed to letting the territory break away from Serbia.

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