Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Diplomats press Serbs on Kosovo

ATHENS, April 5, 2006 (AFP) -

Diplomats and international envoys meeting in Athens on Wednesday urged the Serbs to get more involved in talks on the future of Kosovo, a diplomatic source said.

"The message to the Serbs was that they have to give their all to the negotiations and avoid blockages," said one diplomat who attended the meeting, of United Nations, European Union and NATO representatives, Balkan diplomats and members of the informal contact group of nations monitoring peace efforts in the former Yugoslavia.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority wants independence from Serbia, which Belgrade is refusing to grant.

Direct negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina opened in February in Vienna and will restart on May 4.

Albert Rohan, the UN negotiator in charge of the talks, himself recently called on the Serbs to go further in the talks on the status of the province, saying non-participation was "counter-productive".

The one-day event was hosted by Greece, the rotating head of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP), a regional body of nine Balkan countries.

Kosovo has been run by the UN since the departure in 1999 of Serbian armed forced after a NATO bombing campaign.

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