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Kosovo: envoy on final status meets with Serbs

Kosovo: Annan's envoy on final status for UN-run province meets with Serbs

Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special envoy leading the process to decide the future status of Kosovo today met with Serb political leaders in the Serbian province, which the UN has run since Western forces drove out Yugoslav troops amid grave human rights abuses in fighting between majority Albanians and Serbs in 1999.

Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, a veteran UN trouble-shooter appointed earlier this month to lead the talks, which Mr. Annan has said could include the options of independence or autonomy for Kosovo where Albanians outnumber Serbs and others by 9 to 1, met with ethnic Albanian leaders yesterday.

Tomorrow he will visit the Serbian capital of Belgrade, where officials have declared their opposition to the province's independence.

Mr. Ahtisaari told a news conference in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital, that the pace of the status process would depend on the parties, but would ultimately be determined by himself, in consultation with the Secretary-General, adding that he had asked all sides to come forward with position papers, detailing their ideas on ways forward.

He stressed that he would be supporting Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Kosovo, Søren Jessen-Petersen, in the implementation of the standards, a set of eight targets in such areas as building democratic institutions, enforcing minority rights, creating a functioning economy and establishing an impartial legal system.

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