Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Kosovo PM welcomes contacts with Belgrade - AFP

Kosovo's prime minister, the former guerrilla leader Ramush Haradinaj, said Tuesday he was interested in holding political contacts with Belgrade, which objected to his appointment earlier this month.

Haradinaj told reporters that he was "aware of the benefit of the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade on technical matters, but also of the benefit of political contacts."

"It is in our interest and in the interest of finalizing the final status of Kosovo to have such contacts with our neighbours," Haradinaj said.

The leaders of Kosovo and Serbia held their first face-to-face talks since the 1998-99 Kosovo war in Vienna in October last year, agreeing to launch an ongoing dialogue on matters of mutual concern such as energy, communications and the return of refugees.

But the process was badly undermined after violent anti-Serb riots erupted in the province in March, leaving 19 dead and some 900 injured.

Haradinaj, 35, was a senior commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) guerrilla movement during the 1998-99 separatist war against Serbian forces, and has recently been questioned by UN war crimes investigators.

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