UN envoy discusses Kosovo with Belgrade

A special U.N. envoy met Serbia's leaders Thursday as he prepared to report to the Secretary-General Kofi Annan about the situation in the southern Serbian province of Kosovo.

Kai Eide arrived in Serbia after visiting Kosovo on Wednesday. He is probing how far the U.N.-run province has come in creating a democratic society since the end of the 1999 bloody war.

Eide's assessment will determine whether talks on Kosovo's final status should start soon or be delayed.

Eide refused to disclose any details of report he will make to Annan. He said that "all options are open" and reiterated that the report will focus on protection of minorities, their cultural heritage and return of refugees.

Kosovo, Serbia's southern province dominated by separatist ethnic Albanians, has been an international protectorate since 1999, when a NATO air war ended repressive Serb rule there.

Kosovo's final status remains a contested issue. The province's ethnic Albanians want it to gain independence, while Serbia insists it should remain part of Serbia-Montenegro.

Meantime the situation in Kosovo remains tense and dangerous as Serbs face harassment by extremist ethnic Albanians.

President Boris Tadic "expressed concern" over the recent killing of two young Serbs, while Serbia-Montenegro Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic said that "there is no nation in Europe whose rights are being so brutally violated as those of the Serbs in Kosovo."

Eide on Wednesday had called on Kosovo's leaders to better reform local government, allow for the return of some 200,000 Serbs and other minorities and ensure protection of Serb cultural heritage, which mainly consists of Serb Orthodox churches that have been targeted in past violence, the AP reported.

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