Kosovo recognition: Afghanistan first, France, U.S. follow

KABUL, BRUSSELS, WASHINGTON -- Afghanistan was the first country to recognize the unilateral secession of Kosovo.

Rice, Bush (FoNet, archive)
Rice, Bush (FoNet, archive)

"We support the decision made by the people and we recognize Kosovo's independence," the troubled Asian country's Foreign Ministry spokesman said today.

This was followed by an annoucement by France after the EU ministerial meeting in Brussels today.

Reuters says that Britain, Germany and Italy followed Paris minutes later, saying they had or would imminently inform Priština of their decision.

Finland said it would be among those recognizing too.

Later during the day, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that her country had formally recognized Kosovo's independence, and congratulated the "people of Kosovo".

U.S. President George Bush said Monday that the "people of Kosovo were now independent".

Bush was speaking in a live interview aired on NBC television from Arusha, Tanzania during a tour of Africa, Reuters reported.

"We'll watch to see how the events unfold today. The Kosovans are now independent. It's something I've advocated along with my government," Bush said.

Belgrade, backed by Moscow, has rejected such moves as illegal, and is seeking respect of its internationally recognized borders.

Earlier, Senators Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joseph Biden all welcomed Kosovo Albanians' independence declaration.

One of the Democrats' presidential hopefuls, Clinton, called for a speedy recognition of Kosovo's independence.

Her rival, Obama, echoed the same sentiment, and added that he hoped Kosovo's authorities and people will do everything to make it a positive example of "democracy and rule of law".

Another democrat, Biden, who is the Foreign Policy Committee chair in the U.S. Senate, said he will soon call on his colleagues to join him in "expressing the Senate's support for Kosovo's independence".

Turkey was also one of the countries to support the Kosovo Albanians' moves that have been declared illegal by Serbia.

Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo Sunday declared unilateral secession from Serbia.