Saturday, January 13, 2007

U.S. envoy: Serbian Kosovo status by April

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- A U.S. diplomat in Washington said a solution to the future status of Serbia's mainly ethnic-Albanian Kosovo province could be decided by April.

U.S. Undersecretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns told Voice of America that U.N. special envoy to Kosovo Martti Ahtisaari will begin a series of talks with Kosovo ethnic-Albanian leaders in Pristina and Serbian authorities in Belgrade soon after Serbia's parliamentary elections set for Jan. 21.

Burns said he hoped the Kosovo solution could be found "one to two months" after the Serbian elections.

He said Washington does not support any option nor it has proposed any solution to the Kosovo status and added it will do so only after Ahtisaari announces his proposal on who will govern Kosovo, Belgrade's Beta news agency reported.

Ahtisaari's proposal will have to be approved by the U.N. Security Council.

U.N. administrators and NATO troops have been deployed in Kosovo after the 1999 armed fighting in a bid to contain ethnic conflicts.

Over the past years, leaders of ethnic-Albanians who make up 90 percent of Kosovo's population of 1.8 million insist on independence from Belgrade, while the Serbian government in Belgrade, representing 100,000 Serbs in Kosovo, say the province will always be an integral part of Serbia.

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