Monday, March 14, 2005

EU foreign policy chief to visit Kosovo

The European Union's foreign policy chief Javier Solana was due to arrive in Kosovo Monday as officials try to form a new government after the former prime minister was indicted for wartime atrocities by a U.N. court.

Solana will meet with officials in this disputed United Nations-administered province on Tuesday following the resignation of former prime minister Ramush Haradinaj last week and his surrender to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.

Haradinaj and two of his subordinates were indicted by the tribunal for alleged crimes committed against Serbs, Albanians and Gypsy civilians by the western-backed rebel Kosovo Liberation Army during 1998-1999 war against Serb forces.

He is the highest-ranking Kosovo Albanian to be indicted by the tribunal. On Monday, he pleaded not guilty to all charges.

A caretaker government led by the deputy prime minister is in place until the parliament votes the new executive that will probably lead the province into the status talks later this year.

Kosovo, which officially remains part of Serbia-Montenegro, has been administered by the U.N. since 1999, following NATO's war aimed at stopping the Serb crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians.

The talks to resolve the province's status are expected to start later this year, if Kosovo reaches internationally set benchmarks on human rights, rights of minorities and the rule of law.

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