U.N. mediator in Kosovo to meet with Albanian leaders

The United Nations mediator in negotiations to determine Kosovo's final status will meet with the province's ethnic Albanian leaders Wednesday.

U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari's visit comes after a first round of negotiations last week in Vienna, Austria, between the ethnic Albanians, Kosovo's Serb minority and Serbian government officials.

The ethnic Albanian negotiating team on Wednesday will present Ahtisaari with responses to questions he left with them regarding guarantees for the protection of Kosovo's Serb and other minority communities, a key demand in the talks.

Ahtisaari is trying to steer the two sides toward a solution this year to one of the most intractable problems still unresolved after the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanians are demanding full independence from Serbia. Serbian leaders in Belgrade seek to maintain at least some control over the province. Kosovo has been a de-facto U.N. protectorate since the end of the war there in 1999.

Ahtisaari met Tuesday with Serbian officials in Belgrade.

Also visiting Wednesday is Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds, whose country has about 300 troops in Kosovo as part of NATO's 17,500-member peacekeeping force, reports the AP.


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