BELGRADE, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Stefan Lehne, European Union envoy for Kosovo future status talks, said in Belgrade on Tuesday that it was necessary to continue preliminary talks of technical issues regardless of Kosovo's future status.
The technical issues such as decentralization and minority rights should be resolved as they have "a universal importance", said Lehne, who met Serbia-Montenegro Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic to review how to speed up the stalled negotiating process.
UN-mediated talks between Serbia and the Kosovo Albanians began in February in Vienna. The fifth round of talks, dedicated to religious and cultural heritage, will be held on May 23 in Vienna. UN chief mediator Martti Ahtisaari expects to finish technical talks by July, before talks on actual future status begin.
The Western powers have said that the future status talks should be concluded by the end of this year for Kosovo, a Serbian province but under UN administration since June 1999.
Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority insists on outright independence, while its Serb minority and Belgrade are seeking to keep Kosovo at least formally within Serbia's boundaries.
Also on Tuesday, Ahtisaari said in Slovenia that Kosovo's future status talks are like a marathon and it cannot be known when they will be completed.