Archive for Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Serb, Kosovar leaders meet to map future

July 25, 2006

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— Serb and Kosovar leaders reluctantly met Monday for the first time since NATO bombs drove Serb forces out of the Albanian majority province in 1999.

A United Nations special envoy called the meeting, in the officially neutral city of Vienna, to make progress on Kosovo's future status: Kosovars want independence, and Serbia opposes division.

Post-meeting statements made clear that the two sides are far apart and cast doubt on a negotiated solution. Kosovars and Serbs refused to appear together at the press conference following the meeting; each staged their own briefing with their own translators.

Asked if there was any sign of a future deal between the two sides, U.N. special envoy Martti Ahtisaari, said, "No, I would be lying if I said so."

"They are as far apart as possible: Belgrade would accept everything but independence, while Kosovo Albanians will accept nothing but the independence," Ahtisaari said.

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