PRISTINA, Serbia (AP) - The U.N. mission in Kosovo will allow Serbia's Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica to visit the disputed province, a U.N. official said Monday.
Kostunica will participate Wednesday in ceremonies marking Vidovdan, or St. Vitus Day, which marks the day that Ottoman forces defeated a Christian army led by Serbian Prince Lazar in 1389, a U.N. official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
Kosovo has been administered by the U.N. since mid-1999, when a NATO air war halted a crackdown by Serb forces on ethnic Albanians seeking independence.
Kostunica had asked U.N. authorities in Kosovo -- who will also be in charge of arranging for his protection during his stay -- for permission to visit. The province's U.N. administration can deny entry to anyone they believe could be under threat, or if their presence could pose a threat to others.
In 2000, they denied permission for a visit by Albanian President Sali Berisha on security grounds.
Ethnic Albanians, who comprise about 90 percent of the province's population of 2 million, want independence. Serbia insists on retaining some control over the province, which it considers the birthplace of its national identity centuries ago.
An estimated 10,000 ethnic Albanians were killed in Kosovo's war. After the end of the war, tens of thousands of Serbs fled the province in the face of reprisal attacks and threats from ethnic Albanian extremists.
The Serbs who remain live mainly in isolated enclaves scattered around the province, and the two communities remain as divided as ever.
Kostunica's visit will come amid U.N.-mediated talks aimed at determining whether Kosovo becomes fully independent or remains part of Serbia and following his planned meetings in London with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.