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15-member Security Council mission set to visit Kosovo and Belgrade

15-member Security Council mission set to visit Kosovo and Belgrade

A 15-member delegation of the Security Council will head to Kosovo and Belgrade tomorrow for a first-hand look at the situation in the region and meetings with the Yugoslav leadership, according to the Council President, Ambassador Anwarul Karim Chowdhury of Bangladesh, who will lead the team.

The mission will spend Saturday and Sunday acquainting themselves with the political and security challenges facing the UN Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), Ambassador Chowdhury told a press briefing today.

On Monday, the mission heads to Belgrade for meetings with the President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Vojislav Kostunica, as well as the country's Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and other senior officials.

The President said the team would examine such issues as the return of refugees as well as the status of missing persons and detainees. Participants would also consider the broader regional context. "We will see how the situation in the region is impacting on UNMIK and its activities," he said, adding that the Council was greatly concerned about developments in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and would discuss the matter with KFOR, the international security presence in Kosovo.

The mission marks the first time that all 15 Council members are taking part in such an endeavour. Ambassador Chowdhury called this "an expression of the recent trend in the Council to be more proactive, to be available for first-hand experience of what is happening in a conflict area, [and] to gain first-hand experience on how the UN operations are going."

"It's a very positive development in terms of being a so-to-say hands-on Security Council with regard to various conflict regions," he added.