Wednesday, July 26, 2006

U.S. envoy optimistic over Kosovo talks

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) - The U.S. envoy for Kosovo status talks said Wednesday he was optimistic that a solution can be found for the troubled province at ongoing U.N.-brokered talks.

U.S. diplomat Frank Wisner urged the Serb and ethnic Albanian delegations in the negotiations to be flexible.

"Both the Serbian side and the Kosovo Albanian side should look toward future negotiations, be flexible and work toward a compromise in order to be able to reach a realistic solution," Wisner said at the end of his visit to Belgrade.

The negotiations to determine the future status of Kosovo began early this year, under U.N. mediation. The province's ethnic Albanians insist on independence from Serbia, while Belgrade wants to keep the province within the republic's boundaries.

On Monday, the presidents and prime ministers of Serbia and Kosovo met face-to-face for the first time since the start of the negotiations. The meeting was considered crucial, although the two sides remained entrenched in their positions.

Wisner described the top-level meeting in Vienna as a "historic event ... of tremendous importance for all of us who seek a solution for the future of Kosovo."

He added he had received assurances from both Serbia's President, Boris Tadic, and Prime Minister, Vojislav Kostunica, that they will attend the future meetings as well.

"It is important that any solution (for Kosovo) provide protection for Serbs and other minorities, and fall within the context of a successful, progressive and democratic Kosovo," he said.

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