Tuesday, December 20, 2005

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WASHINGTON (AP)--A former ambassador to India and Egypt is to become Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's special representative to international talks over the status of Kosovo, currently patrolled by NATO-led peacekeepers.

Rice said Monday she will appoint Frank G. Wisner for the negotiations. Besides Egypt and India, Wisner has been ambassador to Zambia and the Philippines. The Kosovo

"Wisner will provide American support to the lead international negotiator, U.N. Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari, in his efforts to bring together Serbian and Kosovar leaders for discussions on Kosovo's future status," Rice said in a statement.

The talks are under U.N. auspices. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Athisaari as his envoy in November. Athisaari has said the province's final status will be decided by the Security Council after his report. Kosovo has an Muslim ethnic Albanian majority, and many of its people want to sever the ties with Serbia-Montenegro.

Kosovo remains among the most intractable disputes still unresolved from the ethnic and sectarian wars that led to the splintering of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. About 17,500 NATO-led peacekeepers patrol Kosovo, where a NATO air war in 1999 ended a bloody crackdown on the province's Albanian majority by the Serbia's central government.

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