Zapatero hopes unilateral steps will be avoided in Kosovo settlement.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has voiced hope that unilateral steps will be avoided in the solution of the Kosovo problem.

"It is necessary to reach consensus and UN approval in the Kosovo settlement," he said. "Certainly, it will be hard to reach an agreement, but the sides should try to do that."

Russia thinks it would be inexpedient to set a deadline for the Kosovo settlement process, President Vladimir Putin told a Friday press conference in Sochi.

He urged the international public to respect the territorial integrity principle.

The Russian position on Kosovo has not altered, Putin said. "We favor a direct dialog between Pristina and Belgrade," he said. "We do not think that this dialog should be limited by time. It should be a free dialog to result in a mutually acceptable compromise."

Putin voiced the readiness to continue cooperation with all parties to the Kosovo settlement process, as well as the United States and the European Union within the UN framework.

"The principle of territorial integrity defended by Russia in the Kosovo situation concerns many states, and we think that it would be highly irresponsible to disregard this principle," he said when the Spanish premier was asked a question about separatism in the Basque Country.

[Source: Itar Tass, Sochi, 28Sep07]

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