PRISTINA, Serbia and Montenegro, July 29 (Reuters) - Kosovo's government told international powers on Friday it was doing its best to improve life for its Serb minority, a main condition for talks the Albanian majority hopes will bring the province independence.
Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi met diplomats from major Western powers and Russia days after they wrote expressing concern at lack of progress in giving more local power to minorities, key to clinching "final status" talks this year.
Kosumi admitted the slow pace of reforms but said Belgrade shared the blame by blocking Serb participation in the project to create new municipalities in minority areas.
"The Kosovo government will do whatever it can to overcome these obstacles, but we cannot say that nothing has been achieved," he told reporters after meeting the Contact Group -- the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia.
The United Nations took control of Serbia's mainly ethnic Albanian province in 1999, after 78 days of NATO bombing drove out Serb forces accused of brutal atrocities against civilians as they fought to crush a separatist insurgency.
Six years on, a U.N. envoy is expected to report by September whether the province has made enough progress to secure negotiations the 90-percent ethnic Albanian majority hopes will lead to formal independence.
The U.N. first wants progress on democracy and minority rights, particularly in decentralising powers to Serbs, who shun authorities in the capital Pristina and continue to live in isolated enclaves watched over by NATO-led peacekeepers.
That progress has been stalled by ethnic Albanians' reluctance to concede too much ahead of negotiations and by Serb complaints over the boundaries of the proposed municipalities.
In the letter to Kosumi the Contact Group said "the process to re-integrate Kosovo's minorities into communities has been too slow". Leaders must re-double their efforts since the result of the U.N. review was "not a foregone conclusion," it warned.
Serbia opposes independence for Kosovo, which Serbs regard as the sacred cradle of their nation. Analysts warn of fresh violence in the still-volatile province if talks are delayed.