Xinhua, July 22, 2008
Serbia invites UN Kosovo chief to start talks on reconfiguration
BELGRADE, July 21 (Xinhua) -- Serbia sent an official invitation on Monday to the chief of the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to come to Belgrade in order to start talks on the reconfiguration of the international civil presence in Kosovo.
It is expected that Lamberto Zannier might arrive in Belgrade on Wednesday and that the talks might start then, the Serbian official news agency Tanjug reported.
Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said on Sunday that the opening of the talks on the reconfiguration of the UNMIK was agreed during his recent visits to Paris, Moscow and New York.
Jeremic 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.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has instructed Zannier to start talks with Belgrade on "several issues of mutual interest", including Serbs involvement in Kosovo's judiciary, police, customs, transportation and infrastructure, boundaries and Serbian patrimony.
Zannier has said that he would launch "shuttle diplomacy" between Belgrade and Pristina in an apparent attempt to solve a series of open issues which derived after Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence in February.
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.