PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) - Kosovo leaders named a team Tuesday that will participate in the U.N.-mediated talks with Serbia's officials next week in what is billed a symbolic start of talks to determine the future of the disputed province.
The seven-member team will be lead by Lutfi Haziri, the minister of local government administration, and by Jakup Krasniqi, of the opposition Democratic Party of Kosovo, according to Muhamet Hamiti, an adviser of Kosovo's president.
The first round of talks -- on Feb. 20-21 in Vienna, Austria -- will deal with the local government reform aimed at giving Kosovo's Serbs and other minorities more say in areas where they live.
The two sides have disagreed over how much power should be held locally, with minority Serbs insisting they be allowed to run affairs in their communities and have special links to Belgrade. Ethnic Albanians have rejected the idea, saying such decentralization would lead to the province's ethnic division.
Kosovo, a province of 2 million, has been run by the United Nations since a 1999 NATO bombing campaign ended a Serb crackdown on independence-minded ethnic Albanian rebels.
Kosovo's ethnic Albanians, which comprise about 90 percent of the population, have demanded outright independence, while Serbia insists it retains some control over the region it consider an integral part of their nation.
Western diplomats recently indicated that Kosovo's quest for independence was conditional on it becoming a democracy that respected minority rights, with local government reform a key to that goal.