Serbia

Serbia initiates to open new stage of Kosovo status talks

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BELGRADE, May 25, 2007 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- The Serbian government sent an initiative to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday for opening a new stage of talks on the status of Kosovo and Metohija, the official Tanjug news agency reported.

In a paper entitled "Initiative of the Republic of Serbia for opening a new stage of the talks on the status of Kosovo and Metohija", the Serbian government urged to open a new stage of talks between Belgrade and Pristina authorities for the basic aim of reaching a solution on Kosovo status acceptable to both sides.

"Such a solution, coupled with international mediation, would represent a guarantee of long-term stability and a condition of unimpeded economic and social development of the region," the initiative read.

A good negotiating milieu, corresponding procedure and an adequate time frame without artificially imposed deadlines are the prerequisites to reach the aim, the Serbian government asserted in the initiative, pledging that "by proposing this initiative, the Republic of Serbia, aware of the historic importance of a just solution to the problem, is prepared to fully assume its part of the responsibility for the successful conducting and completion of the negotiations."

Kosovo, with 90 percent of its population being ethnic Albanians, has been run by the United Nations since 1999, when NATO bombings halted the Serbian crackdown on separatist Albanian rebels. Its future status talks between Kosovo's Albanian majority and Serbian authorities were first officially launched in November 2005, but ended in vain 13 months later.

UN Kosovo envoy Martti Ahtisaari has proposed internationally supervised independence for Kosovo, a move backed by the United States, most EU countries and Kosovo Albanian leaders but rejected by Serbia and its traditional ally Russia.

The UN Security Council is due to debate a resolution based on Ahtisaari's proposal later this month, but Russia has threatened to block any resolution unacceptable to Serbia.