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Kosovo: members of transitional council back UN dialogue with Serbian leader

Kosovo: members of transitional council back UN dialogue with Serbian leader

A large number of members of the Kosovo Transitional Council (KTC) have backed the initiative by the head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) of holding talks with a top Serbian official, the UN Mission said today.

KTC members voiced their support today after hearing a briefing by Hans Haekkerup, the head of UNMIK, on his 15 August meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Nebosja Covic. According to the UN Mission, the purpose of the meeting was to address the problems plaguing the territory and to seek Mr. Covic's help in encouraging Kosovo Serbs to participate in the province's institutions.

Noting that the meeting had gone "very well," Mr. Haekkerup told the KTC that he had informed the Serbian leader that no parallel structures would be accepted in Kosovo, and had underlined the fact that full security and administrative responsibility for Kosovo rested with UNMIK peacekeepers and troops from the NATO forces known as KFOR. Mr. Covic agreed, stressing that he wanted to resolve problems and not create them, Mr. Haekkerup said. He added that Mr. Covic had been supportive in urging Kosovo Serbs to register.

Other issues discussed during the encounter included the Kosovo Albanian detainees in Serbian prisons, the Kosovo Serb prisoners in Kosovo, missing persons, and Mitrovica. The issue of educational systems had also come up, but it needed to be discussed again in the future, Mr. Haekkerup said.

Responding to reservations expressed by some KTC members about the role of Mr. Covic, the UNMIK chief emphasized that the purpose of talking to the Serbian leader had been to resolve problems. In no way did it infringe the authority of UNMIK and KFOR under UN resolution 1244. "Mr. Covic understands that," he said.