Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Kosovo president to ask UN to back independence for province

PRISTINA, Serbia, July 11, 2006 (AFP) -

Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu said on Tuesday that he would ask the UN Security Council to support independence for the southern Serbian province, administered by the United Nations.

"I will ask the Security Council to support the process achieved so far in Kosovo.... At the same time, I will ask for support for Kosovo independence," Sejdiu told reporters in the provincial capital Pristina.

Sejdiu, who was expected to address the Security Council on Thursday to express his view on the situation in Kosovo, met with members of the province's negotiating team in Pristina.

He will be the first Kosovo official to report to the top UN body.

The UN-sponsored talks on Kosovo's future status began in February, but have produced no concrete results so far.

Leaders of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority are pushing for independence, a demand the Serbian government firmly opposes, offering instead wide autonomy for the province.

The UN's top envoy for Kosovo, Finnish diplomat Martti Ahtisaari, will present his report on the progress made during the talks between Pristina and Belgrade at the same session of the UN Security Council.

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica will also address the council about the talks.

Sejdiu said he would also demand Kosovo be given a seat in the United Nations.

"Each sovereign country wants to become an important factor of the international community... and a seat (for Kosovo) in the UN is necessary," Sejdiu said.

Sejdiu said he had received no invitation to meet Kostunica during their stay in New York.

Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations and NATO since 1999, when bombing by the latter drove out forces loyal to former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic involved in a brutal crackdown against separatist ethnic Albanian rebels.

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