Monday, July 23, 2007

Kosovo: Ethnic Albanian leaders in Washington after independence blueprint shelved

Washington/Belgrade, 23 July(AKI) – Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian leaders were due to meet in Washington on US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice on Monday to try and clarify the diplomatic impasse over the breakaway province's independence from Serbia.

The Kosovan leaders and Rice will try and chart a way forward on the province's future status after the United Nations Security Council last Friday withdrew a draft resolution granting Kosovo internationally supervised independence.

After repeated efforts to push through a resolution based on the proposal by UN special negotiator Martti Ahtisaari, western powers, which favour independence, decided to shift the problem to a six-nation Contact group for Kosovo. The group - comprising the US, Great Britain, Italy, France, Germany and Russia - should hold a further 120 days of negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade.

Meanwhile German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Monday proposed that the new talks be coordinated by an international “troika” consisting of the US, EU and Russia. He was speaking to journalists in Brussels, where Kosovo is high on the agenda of a summit of EU foreign ministers. Such a troika would be "the best chance" so far to secure a deal on Kosovo, he said.

Russia, as a veto wielding permanent member of the Council, has blocked several draft resolutions, siding with Belgrade in opposing Kosovo's independence and demanding new talks which might lead to a compromise solution.

The shelving of Ahtisaari’s plan in the UN was greeted in Serbia as a “great victory” for Belgrade and Moscow, but some political analysts have warned the Contact group's brief is not entirely clear.........ADNKRONOS

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