22 January 2007

UN to withdraw from Kosovo next year

United Press International, November 26, 2006

PRISTINA, Serbia, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- The United Nations plans to withdraw its mission from Serbia's mainly ethnic-Albanian Kosovo republic in mid-2007, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Neeraj Singh, spokesman of the U.N. civil mission in Kosovo, told reporters in Pristina that U.N. administrators are to pull out from the province in three to six months after a solution to Kosovo's future status is announced, the Serbian news agency Tanjug reported.

Earlier reports said teams of the European Union would replace the U.N. teams. U.N. administrators and NATO protection troops have been deployed in Kosovo since ethnic armed conflicts in 1999.

U.N.-led talks began in February in Vienna to decide who will govern Kosovo once foreign personnel leave the province.

No breakthrough in the talks has been achieved as the Serbian government in Belgrade, representing 100,000 Kosovo Serbs, says Kosovo will always be an integral part of Serbia. Leaders of ethnic-Albanians that make up to 90 percent of Kosovo's population of 1.8 million insist on independence from Belgrade.