Saturday, October 21, 2006

U.N. envoy presents ideas on Kosovo's future to group overseeing status talks

VIENNA, Austria (AP) - The chief United Nations envoy for Kosovo presented his preliminary ideas for the future of the province Saturday to members of a six-nation group overseeing ongoing negotiations, his spokeswoman said.

The meeting between Maartti Ahtisaari and representatives of the so-called Contact Group -- which includes the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and Italy -- was short, informal and one of a series of regular meetings, spokeswoman Hua Jiang told The Associated Press. She declined to provide details about what was said during the closed-door gathering.

Kosovo is formally a part of Serbia, but has been under U.N. and NATO control since 1999, when a NATO-led aerial bombardment forced Serbia to halt a government crackdown on separatist ethnic Albanian rebels who had been fighting for independence since 1998.

Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanians want the province to become an independent state, while the minority Serbs want it to remain part of Serbia.

Talks to resolve Kosovo's future began earlier this year, but Belgrade's offer of broad autonomy has been rejected by the ethnic Albanians, who demand a complete secession and full sovereignty.

The Contact Group has set the end of the year as the provisional deadline for conclusion of the talks. Ahtisaari is expected to present his proposal to the U.N. Security Council in the coming months.

No comments: