Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Kosovo and Serbia to resume talks on fate of missing: UN

alks between the Kosovo government and Serbia on the fate of some 3,000 people listed as missing from the 1998-1999 conflict will resume in early March, UN mission chief Soren Jessen-Petersen said Tuesday.

"I asked for a meeting of the working group for the missing to be held in the second half of February but the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross), which has a leading role in facilitating the dialogue, insisted on better preparations for talks," Jessen-Petersen said.

The talks would be the first face-to-face meeting between the two sides since violent anti-Serb riots erupted in the UN-run southern Serbian province in March 2004, leaving 19 dead and some 900 injured.

Of 3,192 people still listed as missing from the war, 2,460 are from Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority, 529 are Serbs and 203 are from other ethnic backgrounds.

Top Serbian and Kosovo politicians held their first face-to-face talks since the war in Vienna in October 2003, agreeing to launch an ongoing dialogue on matters of mutual concern such as the missing persons, energy, communications and refugees.

Kosovo became a UN protectorate after a NATO bombing campaign forced forces under then-Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic to end their crackdown on the ethnic Albanian majority, which demands independence.

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