The United States asked European nations on Thursday to "unite" behind a UN court ruling validating Kosovo's independence, with Vice President Joe Biden reaching out to Serbia. In a non binding verdict, the International Court of Justice in The Hague rejected.
Serbia's argument that Kosovo's declaration of independence in 2008 had no legal basis. "The ICJ ruling strongly asserts that Kosovo's declaration of independence is legal, a judgment we support," US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told AFP.
"Now it is time for Europe to unite behind a common future," he said. National Security Council spokesman Michael Hammer said that the United States was "pleased" that the court agreed with the longstanding US view that Kosovo's declaration of independence was in accordance with international law.
Shortly before the verdict, Biden telephoned Serbian President Boris Tadic and stressed the United States' "unwavering commitment to Kosovo's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the vice president's office said.
Biden urged the Serbian government "to work constructively to resolve practical issues with Kosovo to improve the lives of the people of Kosovo, Serbia, and of the region," it said.
A day earlier, Biden met in Washington with Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and renewed US support for the young nation, which was a UN protectorate after a 1998 99 NATO air campaign ousted Serbian forces.
In his call to the Serbian leader, Biden "commended President Tadic and the Serbian government's actions to improve and strengthen Serbia's relations with Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina," the statement said.
"The vice president also warmly welcomed Serbia's ongoing commitment to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia," it said.
Serbia, which considers Kosovo to still be its province, said backing for the declaration of independence would imperil borders around the world and urged the court to respect its territorial integrity.
But the United States argued at the court in support of Kosovo, saying that recognition of nations amounted to a political act that cannot be undone by judges.