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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 April 2007, 04:50 GMT 05:50 UK
UN team seeks Kosovo information
By Laura Trevelyan
BBC News, New York

French KFOR peacekeeper in Mitrovica
The debate over Kosovo's status has been ongoing since 1999
A delegation from the UN Security Council is arriving in Brussels to start a five-day fact-finding mission about Kosovo's long-term status.

The trip will include visits to Kosovo, Belgrade and Vienna, and comes amid disagreement over the future of Kosovo.

The US and the European Union favour Martti Ahtisaari's plan for de facto independence, which Russia opposes.

The UN has run Kosovo since 1999, after Nato's bombing of Serb forces attacking ethnic Albanians seeking independence.

The UN special envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, has come up with a plan which puts Kosovo on the path to independence.

The UN Security Council will soon vote on the plan.

Veto worry

The Security Council visit to Kosovo was suggested by Russia.

Serbia and Russia say more needs to be done to protect the Serb minority in Kosovo. Russia has hinted it might veto the plan when it is put to a vote.

Ambassadors from Indonesia, South Africa, Ghana and the Republic of Congo all want to know more about the circumstances on the ground in Kosovo.

The US and its European allies hope the trip will persuade those diplomats that the Ahtisaari plan is the best way to avoid further instability in Kosovo.

"We don't want the lid to come off the cauldron," as one Western diplomat put it.

Should Russia use its veto in the Security Council to block the Ahtisaari plan, Kosovo's Albanians might declare independence anyway, a move which could encourage Serbia to try and claim the parts of Kosovo dominated by ethnic Serbs.

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