05 November 2006

UN envoy: Slim chances for Kosovo talks

HELSINKI, Finland, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- A U.N. envoy says a breakthrough on the future of Serbia's Kosovo province is doubtful as Serbs and Albanians have entirely opposed stands.

Martti Ahtisaari, the chief U.N. mediator of the Serb-ethnic Albanian talks on the future status of the U.N.-administered province, said he doubts the two sides will agree on a solution to Kosovo as their stands are "diametrically opposed," the Serbian news agency Beta reported Monday.

Ahtisaari made the comments at a seminar about Kosovo in the Finnish parliament.

The Serbian government in Belgrade and Kosovo's ethnic-Albanian leaders began U.N.-led talks in February in Vienna to decide who will govern the province once U.N. administrators and NATO protection troops leave. The talks have achieved no major breakthrough.

Ethnic-Albanians make up 90 percent of Kosovo's population of 1.8 million, with about 100,000 Serbs living in the province.

The Serbian authorities say Kosovo will be part of Serbia forever while ethnic-Albanians insist on independence from Belgrade.