Italy recognizes Kosovo as an independent state

Italy has approved recognition of Kosovo as an independent state, Premier Romano Prodi said Thursday, joining other European countries and the United States. Prodi and his foreign minister, Massimo D'Alema, said the recognition was extended during a Cabinet meeting in Rome. The two insisted the move was not against Serbia, whose foreign minister said Belgrade would recall ambassadors to nations recognizing Kosovo. "The recognition of Kosovo's independence does not take away anything from our closeness to Serbia," Prodi told reporters, adding that the relationship with Belgrade remains one of friendship and "affection." Prodi maintained Italy's position that Serbia, like other Balkan nations, should eventually join the European Union.