Kosovo's President Fatmir Sejdiu (C),
Prime Minister Hashim Thaci (L) and Speaker of Kosovo's elected chamber
Jakup Krasniqi attend a news conference after Kosovo declared independence
in Pristina, capital of Kosovo, Feb. 17, 2008.(Xinhua Photo)
WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- U.S. 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.