U.N. envoy concludes visit in Kosovo

A U.N. envoy was to conclude a visit to Kosovo Wednesday after talks with Kosovo leaders on the future of the disputed province. Albert Rohan, has been appointed to assist U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari, a former Finnish president, in leading the status talks. He was to travel to Serbia's capital, Belgrade for talks with leaders there after visiting Kosovo. Kosovo, officially a province of Serbia-Montenegro, has been administered by the United Nations since a 1999 NATO bombing campaign halted the Serbian crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians.

The U.N.-mediated talks on solving Kosovo's future status are expected to formally begin in January under Ahtisaari's auspices. Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority insists on independence, while Serbia and the Serb minority living here want to retain at least formal control over the region.

During his visit to Kosovo, Rohan urged ethnic Albanian leaders to reach out to the Serb and other minorities living here by addressing issues such as local government reform aimed at giving them more say in the areas where they live.

"Kosovo Albanians must be conscious that independence will not fall into their lap from heaven," said Rohan in an interview to Kosovo's public television late Monday.

He said the leaders have to create a normal society, which would adhere to European Union standards on rights of minorities and good governance, reports the AP. I.L.

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