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UN Kosovo chief to start talks on mission reconfiguration in Belgrade
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09:00, July 23, 2008

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The chief of the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Lamberto Zannier will travel to Belgrade on Wednesday to start UNMIK reconfiguration talks with Serbian government officials, a UNMIK spokesman said on Tuesday.

"He is eager to begin dialogue on the issues that were outlined in the (UN) secretary-general's letters to President Tadic and Sejdiu," said Russell Geekie.

In those letters, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon makes clear the head of UNMIK will conduct talks between Belgrade and Pristina on several issues, including Serbs involvement in Kosovo's judiciary, police, customs, transportation and infrastructure, boundaries and Serbian patrimony.

Serbia sent Monday an official invitation to Zannier to visit Belgrade in order to start talks on the UNMIK reconfiguration.

Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic has said that Serbia did not change its stand on the issue and that the international civil presence in Kosovo "has to be in keeping with Resolution 1244 and it should be approved by the UN Security Council."

Kosovo, which is dominated by ethnic Albanians, unilaterally declared independence from Serbia with Western backing on Feb. 17,nine years after the administration of the UNMIK since 1999. It has since won recognition from 43 countries, including the United States and most EU countries.

However, Serbia and the some 120,000 Kosovo Serbs rejected Kosovo's independence as illegal under international law.

Kosovo institutions are having almost a neutral position on first Zannier's talks with Serbian government authorities.

Kosovo's Deputy Prime Minister Hajredin Kuqi said Pristina does not expect something crucial from upcoming Belgrade meeting.

"What we expect from Serbia is to stop financing parallel structures in Kosovo, and not to threat Kosovo's sovereignty," said Kuqi.

In Belgrade, Zannier will meet Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister Vuk Jeremic as well as Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanovic, said Geekie.

He said UNMIK is waiting confirmations for other meetings, but not with Serbian President Boris Tadic, who has already traveled abroad.

On June 26, Zannier said that conditions had been provided for the start of the 120-day reconfiguration of the UNMIK operation in Kosovo and he saw the end of October as the deadline for ending the process.


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