US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday that the United States has formally recognized Kosovo as "a sovereign and independent state."
"President (George W.) Bush has responded affirmatively to a request from Kosovo to establish diplomatic relations between our two countries," Rice said in a statement posted on the official website of the State Department.
"The establishment of these relations will reaffirm the specialties of friendship that have linked together the people of the United States and Kosovo," she added.
She said the United States welcomes the commitments Kosovo made in its declaration of independence to implement a United Nations-brokered plan to build a multi-ethnicity Kosovo.
"The unusual combination of factors found in the Kosovo situation ...are not found elsewhere and therefore make Kosovo a special case," the secretary of state said, "Kosovo cannot be seen as a precedent for any other situation in the world today."
In an apparent bid to pacify Serbia which has vowed not to recognize Kosovo's independence, Rice said the United States reaffirms its "friendship" with Serbia.
"We invite Serbia's leaders to work together with the United States and our partners to accomplish shared goals, such as the protection of the rights, security, culture and livelihood of the Serb community in Kosovo," she said.
Kosovo's parliament on Sunday voted to adopt a declaration of the province's independence from Serbia. Belgrade immediately denounced the declaration as illegal. The responses from the international community have so far been mixed.
(Xinhua News Agency February 19, 2008)