US seeks to convince nations to recognize Kosovo, Bush says
US President George W Bush said he would
continue to pressure more countries to recognize Kosovo as an independent state
after a meeting with its leaders on Monday.
Bush also said he opposed a further divide of Kosovo along ethnic lines, as he welcomed President Fatmir Sejdiu and Prime Minister Hashim Thaci to the White House for the first time since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February.
"I'm a strong supporter of Kosovo's independence. I'm against any partition of Kosovo," Bush said after the meeting.
Serbia, backed by Russia, has strongly opposed Kosovo's independence and voiced a particular claim to the ethnic-Serb dominated northern region. About 40 countries have recognized Kosovo, including the US and most of Europe.
"I pledged that the United States would continue to work with those nations that have not recognized an independent Kosovo to convince them to do so as quickly as possible," Bush said.
Sejdiu offered his "heartfelt thanks" to the United States for supporting Kosovo's independence and transition to a fully-fledged democracy, and renewed his commitment to protecting minorities.
"Kosovo will be a country of democracy, a country of all its citizens. It will have a special respect for the minorities," Sejdiu said, speaking through a translator, according to dpa.