Friday, October 07, 2005

UN ready for Kosovo status talks

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is poised to recommend that long-delayed talks open "very soon" on the future status of Kosovo.

Mr Annan said he would inform the UN Security Council of his intention on Friday, Reuters news agency reported.

Mr Annan's envoy Kai Eide has spent the past four months assessing Kosovo's readiness for such talks.

Kosovo has been run by the UN since the end of the war there in 1999, but it remains legally a part of Serbia.

Kosovo's Albanian-dominated authorities want independence, but Serbia and Montenegro does not want to relinquish the province.

The task of mediating is expected to be assigned to the former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, who helped broker a ceasefire between Nato and Serbia in 1999.

Western diplomats say Mr Eide's report, which remains confidential for the time being, notes several shortcomings in Kosovo's standards of democracy, in the work of its legal institutions and in the protection of its Serb minority.

But it argues that further improvements in these areas can become a precondition for progress to be made during the talks.

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