Greece's foreign minister and officials from Romania, Croatia visit Belgrade

Greece's foreign minister and officials from Romania and Croatia are to discuss the U.N.-mediated talks on Kosovo as they conclude a visit to Serbia and its breakaway province. The mission of Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, who is leading the joint regional cooperation initiative, is intended to highlight the importance of preserving Balkan stability during upcoming negotiations on the hotly contested province.

The three officials are to meet Serbian President Boris Tadic, Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and Serbia-Montenegro Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic who will be leading the delegation at upcoming talks with independence-seeking Kosovo Albanians.

The three officials visited Kosovo on Tuesday, as the U.N.-sponsored process to determine whether Kosovo gains independence or remains a self-governing entity within Serbia-Montenegro is gaining steam. The U.N.-mediated talks, which will be led by the former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, are expected to formally begin in January. In Kosovo, Molyviatis appealed to Serbs and Kosovo Albanians to stay engaged throughout the negotiating process which is expected to last several months.

Although still technically a province within the loose union of Serbia and Montenegro, Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations for over six years, since a 1999 NATO bombing campaign ended Belgrade's hold on the region of 2 million people.

Serbia wants Kosovo to remain within its borders, while Kosovo Albanians insist on its independence, reports the AP. I.L.

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