PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) - NATO's highest military body was arriving Tuesday in Kosovo, after the United Nations said talks on the disputed province's status could begin as early as next month.
NATO's Military Committee -- made of the permanent representatives of the 26 member nations -- will meet the top military officials in Kosovo for two days, while the alliance also considers its own future role in the province.
Lt. Gen. Giuseppe Valotto, the commander of NATO's peacekeeping force, known as KFOR, will brief the alliance's top brass about the situation in Kosovo and the peacekeeping force's plans, KFOR spokesman Col. Pio Sabetta said.
The delegation's visit to the province "demonstrates NATO's continuing strong commitment to its missions in the Balkans, and its support to the U.N.," the peacekeeping force in Kosovo said in a statement.
NATO moved into Kosovo as part of the United Nations deal following the alliance's war against Serbia in 1999, which halted Serb forces crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians and put the province under the international trusteeship.
The province -- legally part of Serbia-Montenegro, the union that replaced Yugoslavia -- has been run by a U.N. mission since then.
On Monday, the U.N. Security Council decided to launch talks on Kosovo's future, clearing the way for tough negotiations on the status of the ethnically divided province.
Though eagerly awaited, the prospect of the talks where ethnic Albanians and Serbs hold diametrically opposed views, have raised fears that extremists could use violence to protest the outcome. Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders are seeking independence, while its Serb minority and Belgrade officials want it to remain within Serbia-Montenegro.