Tue, Jul 24, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Kosovo officials in US for talks with Rice, Hadley

AP , WASHINGTON

Kosovo officials were to discuss the breakaway province's future with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday, days after the UN Security Council set aside a resolution that Russia called a hidden route to independence.

The US and the EU said on Friday they would move the forum for deciding Kosovo's status from the council to the Contact Group on Kosovo -- the US, Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Russia.

The council resolution on Kosovo's future was set aside on Friday in the face of a possible Russian veto.

The Washington talks also follow a comment by Kosovo's prime minister Agim Ceku suggesting that the province's parliament should adopt its own resolution setting Nov. 28 as a possible date for declaring independence.

Ceku will be among a group of officials and politicians from the province, including its president and the speaker of its assembly, who were to meet with Rice and other US officials, including US National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, yesterday.

Although Kosovo remains a province of Serbia, it has been under UN and NATO administration since a 78-day NATO-led air war halted a Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in 1999.

In April, the UN's special envoy on Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari, had recommended that Kosovo be granted internationally supervised independence.

The latest version of the resolution calls for four months of intensive negotiations between Kosovo's ethnic Albanian independence-seeking majority and the province's Serb minority, which wants to remain part of Serbia.

Kosovo officials will likely tell Rice and Hadley that patience in Kosovo is running thin and that further delays could inflame public opinion. Moderate forces in Kosovo represented by the delegation are under pressure from more radical parties and the public to show that they will deliver independence.

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