( AP ) - Serbian leaders on Monday suggested Hong Kong might serve as a model in negotiations on Kosovo's disputed future status, but Kosovo officials immediately rejected the idea and talks ended without progress.
Serbian President Boris Tadic told officials at internationally mediated talks that the Hong Kong model would grant Kosovo the autonomy to rule itself, while cooperating with Serbia, according to the Belgrade-based Beta news agency.
Under the model, international borders would not be changed and neither of the two sides would be allowed to make unilateral decisions on constitutional or sovereignty issues, Tadic was cited as saying.
After 156 years of British rule, Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997, with the promise that the city would enjoy a wide-degree of autonomy from the Communist mainland. The territory retained its capitalist economy, British-style legal system and civil liberties.
"What is important in this Hong Kong model is its meaning - that if people agree, things can work," Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica told reporters, adding it was only meant as an example. No one was thinking of "transplanting the case of Hong Kong to Serbia," he said.
A Kosovo negotiator condemned the proposal as irrelevant to the province's situation and said the talks had stalled.
"It is entirely inappropriate because the historic background of Kosovo and Hong Kong differ so much," said Skender Hyseni.
Although the breakaway province formally remains a part of Serbia, it has been under U.N. administration since 1999, when NATO airstrikes ended former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic's crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.
A document intended to create a framework for negotiations appeared to be a key sticking point at the talks.
Hyseni blamed " Belgrade's position and attitude" for the lack of progress.
Tadic also told reporters no progress had been made after both sides met with mediators from the U.S., Russia and the European Union.
During a previous round of talks last month, the the three nations presented the two sides with a 14-point proposal that, among other things, said Belgrade will "not re-establish a physical presence in Kosovo."
The document also said the international community would retain a civilian and military presence in Kosovo even after its status is worked out.
Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, in comments to reporters Monday, insisted that the document should explicitly mention a U.N. Security Council Resolution that defines Kosovo as a part of Serbia.
Ethnic Albanians, who make up 90 percent of Kosovo's 2 million people, insist on independence, but Serbia has said it would never recognize a Kosovar state.
The mediators must report to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the progress of negotiations by Dec. 10. The next round of talks are scheduled for Nov. 20.
But the Russian representative suggested that the likelihood of a negotiated agreement was fading fast.
"In principle, I believe there is (a) chance of (a) compromise solution ... but this chance is very slim," Russian diplomat Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko said.