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Sunday, 17 June, 2001, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
UN takes peace mission to Kosovo
British soldiers search an ethnic Albanian man in Mitrovica
The visit aims to show support for the UN in Kosovo
A delegation from the United Nations Security Council on a tour of Kosovo is due to visit the flashpoint town of Mitrovica for talks with leaders of the Serb and Albanian communities.

The divided town has seen some of the worst violence between the two ethnic groups since the end of the war over Kosovo.

Anwarul Chowdhury and Hans Haekkerup
The UN hopes Serbs in Kosovo will take part in a November election
The envoys will also visit the largest jail in the province - Dubrava prison - and meet the Norwegian commander of the Nato-led peacekeeping force, General Thorstein Skiaker.

The delegation, whose visit is designed to show support for the UN administration in Kosovo, includes representatives from all 15 members of the council and arrived in the region on Saturday.

Delegates were spending two days in Kosovo before flying on to Belgrade where they are due to meet Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica on Monday.

Election

The visit coincides with the declaration by the Russian and Yugoslav presidents on Sunday that Kosovo is the main source of instability in the Balkans.

The two leaders also called on the international community to work to disarm ethnic Albanian rebels.

While in Kosovo, the UN delegation hopes to persuade the Serb minority to engage in the process of elections for a provincial legislative body in November.

Kosovo map
After meeting the head of the UN Mission in Kosovo Hans Haekkerup, delegation leader Anwarul Chowdhury said the goal was to build a multiethnic society where everyone participated in the political process.

The Serbs boycotted municipal elections in October and see the new poll as a step towards independence from Yugoslavia.

But British UN representative Jeremy Greenstock on Saturday said it involved nothing more than substantial autonomy.

'UN roadshow'

Delegates will also be looking at the impact the conflict in neighbouring Macedonia is having on Kosovo.

The visit, which one senior UN diplomat has described as the "Security Council roadshow", is in part aimed at briefing the council on the challenges that Kosovo still faces.

If it is to be more than that, the ambassadors will have to press home the need for ethnic reconciliation in Kosovo.

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See also:

16 Jun 01 | Europe
UN ambassadors head for Kosovo
24 May 01 | Europe
Serbs retake Kosovo buffer zone
19 Apr 01 | Europe
Serbs stone K-For troops
16 Feb 01 | Europe
Serbs die in Kosovo bus blast
04 Mar 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
Mitrovica: K-For's hardest test
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