Thursday, December 15, 2005

UN, Serbia plan direct Kosovo talks next month

BELGRADE, Dec 15 (AFP) -

The United Nations and Serbia said Thursday they were hopeful that direct talks between Belgrade and Pristina on the future status of disputed Kosovo can start next month.

Albert Rohan, the assistant to UN special Kosovo talks envoy Martti Ahtisaari, said the purpose of his visit to the Serbian capital was to get concrete positions ahead of the talks.

"The shuttle diplomacy serves the purpose to clarify matters and also to (get) the parties to put forward concrete positions, and of course they have then to lead to lead to direct talks with our facilitation," the Austrian diplomat said.

"We are expecting to receive now complete position papers on both sides and we shall use the Christmas season to study all these papers and then resume our activities in early January," Rohan added.

He was speaking to the media after meeting with Sanda Raskovic-Ivic, one of the 13-member team representing Serbia in the talks on resolving the status of Kosovo, which has been run by the United Nations since its 1998-1999 war.

Raskovic-Ivic, for her part, indicated the direct talks could take place in the Austrian capital Vienna, where Ahtisaari and Rohan are based.

"They could take place in second half of January probably in Vienna where, I think, these negotiations will generally be held," she said, adding that Belgrade favoured direct talks.

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