Albanian, Serbian officials resume Kosovo talks

Ethnic Albanian and Serbian officials staked out their positions as U.N.-mediated talks resumed Friday in an effort to determine the future status of ethnically tense Kosovo.

The two delegations sat across from each other for the second round of talks alongside U.N. mediators pushing to find a lasting solution to one of the most intractable issues left since the disintegration of Yugoslavia, whether Kosovo becomes independent or not.

The initial encounter was described as "very frank and constructive" by someone who attended the meeting, who spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because of the sensitivity of the talks.

The process is being mediated by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, appointed by the United Nations to steer the talks toward an agreement by the end of the year.

The talks have opened nearly seven years since the province became a U.N. protectorate when NATO halted the crackdown by forces of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's on ethnic Albanian separatists.

The meeting on Friday will not deal directly with the question of the province's disputed status. The one-day round of talks, held at the Auersperg Palace in the Austrian capital of Vienna, are chaired by Ahtisaari's deputy, Albert Rohan.

Instead, the discussions are set to focus on the details of local government reform to give Serbs more of a say in areas where they live and on the links between the beleaguered Serb minority and Belgrade, reports the AP.


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