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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 June, 2003, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
Belgrade promises Kosovo talks
Guard looks into Kosovo from Serbian territory
The talks will not map out Kosovo's future
Serbia-Montenegro has announced it will hold talks with Kosovo Albanian leaders this summer with a view to normalising relations.

President Svetozar Marovic said talks with the breakaway province - administered by the UN and Nato since the end of the war there in 1999 - would start before the end of July at an unspecified venue.

He made the announcement at the end of the EU-Western Balkans summit in Porto Carras, Greece, and the development was welcomed by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana as "really good news".

"We want to assure all European nations that we have the vision, the patience and the strength to solve the problems of the past," said Mr Marovic.

EU officials at the summit suggested Brussels as one possible venue for the talks which will cover practical issues, including energy and transport links, but also the return of Serbian refugees.

Meetings 'necessary'

Belgrade's forces withdrew from Kosovo, along with some 200,000 mainly Serbian refugees, after a 78-day Nato bombing campaign aimed at ending repression of ethnic Albanians there.

We have many problems, technical issues of common interest, that we need to solve
Ramadan Avdiu
adviser to Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi

Ramadan Avdiu, an adviser to Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi, said the talks were necessary.

"We have many problems, technical issues of common interest, that we need to solve," he said.

The BBC's Oana Lungescu reports from Porto Carras that what the talks will not address is Kosovo's future or ethnic Albanian calls for independence.

No-one in the EU is prepared to accept these claims, our correspondent says, but once the talks get under way between Belgrade and Pristina, the international community may not be able to avoid a decision on Kosovo's final status for much longer.

It seems, our correspondent adds, that the summit's message to Balkan leaders that they can only become members of the EU if they keep their commitments to conduct reforms and overcome ethnic strife is getting through.


SEE ALSO:
Kosovo minorities 'under threat'
28 Apr 03  |  Europe
UN condemns Kosovo attacks
09 Apr 02  |  Europe


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