Tuesday, November 01, 2005

FACTBOX-Five facts on Kosovo status envoy Ahtisaari

Nov 1 (Reuters) - Former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari has been picked as the United Nations special envoy to lead talks on the status of Kosovo. Here are five facts about the veteran diplomat.

* Ahtisaari will be returning to the unresolved problem that provoked NATO's first war in 1999, when he made it clear to President Slobodan Milosevic that pulling Serb forces out of Kosovo was the only way to stop NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia which lasted 11 weeks.

* Before becoming the EU envoy to Kosovo, he was best known abroad for his work in Africa, especially his role as a U.N. official in negotiations on the independence of Namibia from South African rule in 1990.

* Ahtisaari, 68, returned to the international spotlight this year when he organised talks between Indonesia's government and the Free Aceh Movement, who signed a peace deal in August to end a 30-year uprising.

* During his 1994-2000 term as president of Finland, he led the country into the European Union and eurozone, becoming known as a no-nonsense statesman at ease with world affairs.

* He bowed out of national politics in 2000 to work with international organisations promoting peace and crisis resolution, accepting projects in Northern Ireland, Israel and the Horn of Africa.

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