Sunday, May 08, 2005

UNHCR Austria chief to head Kosovo talks

Vienna - UNHCR head in Austria Gottfred Hoefner is to head talks between Belgrade and Pristina on the return of refugees to the South Serbian province of Kosovo, according to Serbian media.

The first meeting of the Serbian and Kosovo-Albanian working group was scheduled in the Serbian capital this Thursday, said the reports in Belgrade and Pristina.

The return of Serbian and other non-Albanian refugees to the province of Kosovo, under U.N. administration since 1999, is an issue of paramount importance. After the Kosovo war of 1998/99, about 250,000 Serbs fled or were driven out of the province.

The direct talks between Belgrade and Pristina were inaugurated with a meeting of the two sides in Vienna in October 2003.

After initially fairly successful contacts, above all in the question of missing persons, the talks were interrupted in March 2004 following ethnically motivated attacks by Kosovo-Albanians on the Serb minority.

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