UN Secretary General: delays in resolving Kosovo's future could spark violence

Further delays in resolving the problem of Kosovo could spark violence in the province and of elsewhere in the region, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned Tuesday.

"Any further delay will have a very negative impact on peace and security not only in Kosovo," he said.

Although Kosovo officially remains a province of Serbia, it has been under U.N. and NATO administration since a 78-day NATO-led air war that halted a Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in 1999.

In April, U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari recommended that Kosovo be granted internationally supervised independence - a proposal strongly supported by its ethnic Albanians but vehemently rejected by its Serb minority, Serbia and Russia.

The stalemate has sparked threats from Kosovo's former fighters to take up arms again if no solution is seen. Over the weekend the association of veterans from the 1999 war told local media they "would not sit idly" should Kosovo's independence be put in doubt.

Speaking to journalists at a conference on international migrations, Ban appealed to all parties to refrain from violence.

"I hope parties concerned will not take any unilateral moves," he told journalists.

Ban was scheduled to discuss the issue with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana later Tuesday.