Kosovo, Serbian officials to open last-ditch talks on Kosovo

Top Serbian and Kosovo officials were to start last-ditch talks Monday on the future status of Kosovo, ahead of a December 10 deadline to resolve the sole remaining problem left over from the dismemberment of the former Yugoslavia.

Kosovo, Serbian officials to open last-ditch talks on Kosovo
The three-day meeting in the spa resort town of Baden, near Vienna, will be led by the troika of European, Russian and US mediators: Wolfgang Ischinger, Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko and Frank Wisner.

The troika is due to submit its report on the province to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on December 10.

Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic was quoted as saying ahead of the talks that Serbia did not foresee a compromise deal.

"Frankly speaking, there is little chance, and we warned of the reasons for this. Albanians are sure that after December 10, their demands for independence will be met," Jeremic said in an interview published Monday by Russia's Kommersant daily.

Kosovo has been under UN administration since 1999 following a Serbian crackdown on the independence-seeking ethnic Albanian population.

"Of course an agreement on the status will be ideal. But alas, it does not look likely that we will achieve that by December 10," Ischinger said last week.

Kosovo's outgoing prime minister Agim Ceku said it was "up to Belgrade" if the two sides could reach an agreement during the talks in Baden.

"If they are courageous enough to distance from the past and accept reality, we can reach an accord," Ceku told reporters upon arrival to Vienna.

"The only acceptable solution is the independence for Kosovo," Ceku said, rejecting Belgrade proposals for the autonomy of the province.

In an interview with the Austrian daily Kurier, former fighter leader-turned politician Hashim Thaci -- likely to become Kosovo's new prime minister -- said he was "convinced Kosovo would be independent very soon after December 10."

But Thaci, whose party won legislative elections in Kosovo on November 17, said Pristina "would not do anything without the approval" of the United States and European Union.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Kasım 2007, 16:19
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