PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP)--A U.S. envoy for international talks on Kosovo's future reiterated Monday the solution of the province's disputed status should be reached by the end of 2006.
Frank Wisner said the U.S. is committed "to achieving final status for Kosovo...during this year, 2006."
Wisner's comments contrasted with those of Russia's foreign minister who warned last week against deadlines for the talks.
Sergey Lavrov Friday blamed Kosovo's government for a lack of progress in the talks, and said the international community shouldn't push for an end-of-the-year deadline to settle the issue.
Wisner praised the province's predominantly ethnic Albanian government for reaching out to Serbs and other minorities, but also urged them to continue with the work in the ongoing U.N.-mediated talks on whether Kosovo becomes independent or remains part of Serbia.
In Belgrade, Serbia's Prime Minister, Vojislav Kostunica, "expressed dissatisfaction with the course of negotiations so far, particularly the way they are being directed by the mediators," his office said in a statement after he met with Martti Ahtisaari, the chief U.N. envoy on Kosovo status.
Some form of independence for Kosovo is the most likely outcome of the talks, but international envoys are trying to steer the two sides toward agreements on issues ensuring survival of the Serb minority, who live in enclaves scattered around this tiny province.
Wisner spoke after meetings with ethnic Albanian negotiators.
His visit comes as Montenegro voted in a referendum to become an independent state and also amid preparations for the next round of talks between ethnic Albanian and Serbian officials, tackling the protection of Serbian Orthodox churches and other religious sites in Kosovo.
The two sides have held four meetings so far on the reform of local government meant to give the province's Serbs more rights in the areas where they live, but failed to agree on almost everything.
Kosovo remains formally part of Serbia-Montenegro, but its ethnic Albanian majority wants independence, while Serbs living in the province demand it remain part of Serbia. Ethnic Albanians comprise about 90% of Kosovo's population of 2 million.
Kosovo has been administered by the U.N. since a 1999 NATO air war halted a crackdown by Serb forces on separatist ethnic Albanians. [ 22-05-06 1436GMT ]