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Serbia protests Kosovo leader's UN visit

 Serbian President Boris Tadic addresses the 64th session of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters Friday, Sept. 25, 2009.  (AP Photo/Ma...

UN General Assembly

Serbian President Boris Tadic addresses the 64th session of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters Friday, Sept. 25, 2009. (AP Photo/Ma...

Serbia has formally protested to the U.N. over a visit to the building by the leader of Kosovo, a province of Serbia that seceded 20 months ago, Serb Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said Saturday.
"We have lodged a sharp protest to the U.N. Secretariat and demanded an immediate inquiry into how this happened," Jeremic told The Associated Press.
Jeremic said that Kosovo's President Fatmir Sejdiu and members of his delegation are private citizens and therefore cannot be allowed to attend the current General Assembly session.
Sejdiu and his delegation had passes that allowed them to visit parts of the U.N. headquarters building that are normally off limits to visitors and journalists, but did not enter the General Assembly chamber. It was not immediately known how they had obtained the passes.
The Kosovo delegation was not immediately available for comment.
Kosovo's predominantly ethnic Albanian leadership declared independence from Serbia in February 2008, with strong backing from the United States and most European nations.
Kosovo has been recognized by about 60 nations, but is not a member of the United Nations. U.N. Security Council permanent members Russia and China _ which must sign off on any new members _ strongly oppose Kosovo's independence.
Most governments are said to be waiting for the International Court of Justice to rule on Serbia's complaint about the legality of Kosovo's independence before deciding whether to extend recognition.
The 15-member International Court of Justice was created with the founding of the United Nations in 1945, and is the only international court with general jurisdiction. It has scheduled a public debate on Kosovo later this year and is expected to issue a nonbinding opinion before the end of 2010.
In a rare move highlighting international interest in the issue, all five members of the Security Council have indicated they will take part in the debate, as have numerous other countries. Serbia is asking the court to rule on whether under international law a region can unilaterally break away from a nation with a democratic system.
Kosovo authorities have said they are confident the world court will uphold the territory's secession, because its declaration of independence was a political move and not a legal matter.
Kosovo came under U.N. and NATO administration after a NATO-led air war halted former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic's crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in 1999.
It was widely expected that the United Nations would leave Kosovo after majority ethnic Albanians declared independence from Serbia on Feb. 17, 2008, in a move coordinated with the United States and key European nations. But Russia, which has strong ties to Serbia, vehemently objected, insisting that only the Security Council _ where it has a veto _ could end the U.N. mission.