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Last Updated: Monday, 12 December 2005, 14:50 GMT
EU considers key role in Kosovo
Ethnic Albanian in Kosovo with flag
The ethnic Albanian majority is pressing for independence
The EU is considering taking a leading role in Kosovo after the future of the Serbian province is decided next year.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn have suggested taking over the policing of the breakaway province from the UN.

They also suggest sending prosecutors, judges and prison staff to strengthen the rule of law, and substantially increasing aid to help cut joblessness.

EU foreign ministers asked them on Monday to continue working on the plan.

UN-mediated talks on Kosovo's future status are expected to begin formally in January.

The United Nations has administered Kosovo since a 1999 Nato bombing campaign halted a Serbian crackdown on ethnic Albanians, but it is still officially a province of Serbia-Montenegro.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority hopes for independence, while Serbia and the Serb minority living here want to retain at least formal control over the region.

The Solana-Rehn report talks of a tangible European prospect, whatever the outcome of the status talks.

It says economic aid should be used to tackle unemployment of more than 50%.

The foreign ministers reiterated the EU's readiness to take part in the status talks, through the EU's representative Stefan Lehne.


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