TIRANA, Albania (AP) - Albania's prime minister planned to visit Kosovo later this month in an effort to increase bilateral ties and contribute to regional peace and stability, his press office said Monday.
Prime Minister Sali Berisha was invited Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi and Soren Jessen-Petersen, top U.N. official in the disputed province, to visit Jan. 26-27.
"Regional consultation and cooperation will have a positive impact, not only on the future status determination process, but also on the improvement of social and economic condition of the inhabitants of Kosovo," the invitation said, according to Berisha's press office.
U.N.-mediated talks on Kosovo's future status are to begin Jan. 25, when Serb and ethnic Albanian representatives meet for a first round of talks in Vienna, Austria.
Kosovo, though officially a province of Serbia-Montenegro, has been administered by the United Nations since a 1999 NATO bombing campaign halted the Serbian crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians.
The province's ethnic Albanian majority insists on independence, while Serbia wants to retain at least formal control over the region.
Tirana has said an independent Kosovo would bring peace and stability to the Balkans, and it has appealed to its ethnic Albanians to help create conditions to provide the province's Serb minority a normal life.
Albania has said it has no territorial claims on Kosovo. It also said Kosovo needs a continuing NATO presence to maintain peace and stability.