Kouchner holds meeting with Serb leaders on Mitrovica: The head of UNMIK, Dr. Bernard Kouchner, yesterday met with Serb community leaders in the first of a series of meetings aimed at working out a strategy for improving security in the ethnically divided city of Mitrovica. UNMIK said KFOR commander, General Klaus Reinhardt, accompanied Dr Kouchner in the meeting with the Serbs who were led by the president of the Serb National Council for Kosovska Mitrovica (SNC), Mr. Oliver Ivanovic. The meeting, which lasted for over one hour, was described as tough but positive, with both Dr. Kouchner and Mr. Ivanovic qualifying it as beginning of negotiations towards restoring normality in Mitrovica. The two planned to meet again next week.
Answering questions from journalists, Mr. Ivanovic said plans for allowing Albanians expelled from north Mitrovica to return will be discussed in the next seven days, adding that they were trying to improve the security situation and reduce tensions.
Kosovo to create professional civil service: The Kosovo Interim Administrative Council (IAC) today agreed to create a professional civil service which will take over when the administration is handed over to the people and representatives of Kosovo after international administrators leave. UNMIK said in a statement issued in Pristina that the IAC issued administrative guidelines on hiring the best in a transparent manner. The staff will be paid out of the Kosovo Consolidated Budget. Staffing tables are being worked out. The IAC said it will finalize discussions on the departments of Judicial Affairs and Public Services, which may be the next to become operational, at its next meeting on Tuesday. The IAC agreed to discuss, also on Tuesday, the strategy on the ethnically divided city of Mitrovica proposed by UNMIK and the international peacekeeping force (KFOR).
The IAC also discussed the proposed strategy on restoring security, confidence and co-existence in Mitrovica. They also discussed pending regulations on political party registration and the setting up of an election commission.
UNMIK deploys 450 police in the Mitrovica region: UNMIK police has deployed 450 police in the Mitrovica region, UNMIK said today. By the middle of next week UNMIK police will have reached its total target of some 550, more than half of these stationed in Mitrovica town itself.
UNMIK police reported today that the situation in Mitrovica was calm. The police also said that four prisoners, held for murder committed last year, escaped from the detention centre in Mitrovica. The prisoners included three Serbs and one Albanian.
Large-scale search for illegal weapons ends: The large-scale search for illegal weapons and criminal elements in Mitrovica, which began last Sunday, ended yesterday, KFOR spokesman Lieutenant Commander Philip Anido said today. The operation has demonstrated KFOR's resolve to search for and confiscate illegal weapons, he said. He added, however, that the search for weapons will continue in Mitrovica and other communities. "Our patrols remain vigilant and ready to react firmly against the practice of accumulating weapons, and against any illegal or extremist activity," he said.
Vehicle registration to start in second city: Vehicle registration will begin in Prizren on Wednesday as a first step toward expanding it throughout Kosovo, UNMIK said today. Pristina has so far been the only centre for registering vehicles, which started on 30 November.
UNHCR begins roundtable talks to assist in re-integration: UNHCR pillar head, Special Envoy Dennis MacNamara today chaired a roundtable consultation on the current humanitarian and protection concerns of the Kosovar Ashkilija, Egyptian and Roma communities in Kosovo, UNMIK said today. This is the beginning of a series of talks between UNHCR and the leaders of those communities and other ethnic groups to assist in the process of re-integration. "The idea is to draw in the leaders of these communities to participate more fully in the decision-making process affecting them in terms of humanitarian needs and plans," said UNMIK spokeswoman Nadia Younes.
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