Friday, September 08, 2006

Serbs, Albanians agree on Kosovo churches

VIENNA, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Serbian officials and ethnic-Albanian leaders say they are satisfied with Friday's talks in Vienna on the protection of churches in Serbia's Kosovo province.

The session on establishing protection zones around Serbian churches and monasteries was one of very few successful rounds of the U.N.-led talks, begun in February in Vienna on the final status of the predominantly ethnic-Albanian Kosovo province.

Serbian and Albanian negotiators were positive about the round of talks on the protection of religious and cultural sites in Kosovo, Belgrade's Beta news agency reported.

Kosovo is formally part of Serbia, but since 1999 ethnic hostilities the province has been under the U.N. administration and NATO troops' protection.

The ongoing talks should decide who will govern Kosovo once U.N. and NATO personnel leave.

Ethnic-Albanians, who make up 90 percent of Kosovo's 1.8 million population, insist on Kosovo independent of the Serbian government in Belgrade. Serbia's leaders, who represent some 100,000 Serbs in Kosovo, reject any independent status and offer a high degree of autonomy for the province.

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