Monday, January 16, 2006

UN mediation with Kosovo and Serbia begins in late January

VIENNA, Jan 16, 2006 (AFP) -

The first formal meeting between UN mediators, led by former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, and representatives of Serbia-Montenegro and Kosovo over the future status of Kosovo will take place in Vienna on January 25, a spokesperson told AFP Monday.

Ahtisaari attended Monday a meeting of the Contact Group of six countries (Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the United States) to discuss the future status of Kosovo, which is now an autonomous province in Serbia-Montenegro, the envoy's spokeswoman Hua Tiang said.

The ethnic Albanian majority in the UN-administered Serbian province is seeking independence.

The UN representative to Kosovo, Soeren Jessen-Petersen, also took part in the meeting held behind closed doors at the German embassy in Vienna, the embassy said.

"The (January 25) meeting will be focussing on (the) decentralisation" of Kosovo, said Hua.

The two governments are expected "to choose their representatives and hand over their papers" (on decentralisation), Hua said.

The European Union, NATO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe are expected to send observers.

Ahtisaari, a former president of Finland who helped negotiate peace in Bosnia-Hercegovina after the war there from 1992-1995, was appointed UN special envoy for the future status process for Kosovo in late 2005.

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