Monday, April 11, 2005

Intl Envoys, Belgrade Officials Meet To Discuss Kosovo

International envoys discussed the situation in Kosovo Monday with top Belgrade leaders, ahead of planned talks on the U.N.-run province's future later this year.

Representatives of the U.S., the European Union, Russia, Germany, France, Italy and the U.K. met with top officials from Serbia-Montenegro, including the presidents and prime ministers of the country's two republics and the federal leaders.

After Belgrade, the international envoys from the so-called Contact Group will travel to Kosovo for talks with the province's United Nations administrator and the local ethnic Albanian and Serb leaders.

Kosovo formally remains part of Serbia-Montenegro, which used to be part of Yugoslavia.

But the province has been a U.N. and NATO protectorate since 1999, when the North Atlantic Treaty Organization intervened to stop fighting between ethnic Albanians living in Kosovo and Serbs.

Talks on Kosovo's final status are expected to start later this year. Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanians want Kosovo to gain independence, while Serbia insists the province should have full autonomy but not sovereignty.

Serbia's Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said last week that the meeting with the international envoys would focus on the level of democratic, human rights and minority standards in Kosovo.

The Serb leaders were likely to complain about the conditions of the Serb minority, who live in isolated enclaves under threat of constant attacks by the ethnic Albanians. [ 11-04-05 1945GMT ]

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