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Serbia, Kosovo Albanians to hold direct talks Sep.28 in New York

Representatives from Serbia and Kosovo will hold direct talks without mediators in New York on September 28 within the framework of the UN General Assembly session, a Russian diplomat said Thursday.

At separate talks in Vienna last week, Serbians and Kosovar Albanians together with representatives from the diplomatic troika, comprising the United States, the European Union and Russia, failed to reach a breakthrough. Alexander Botsan-Harchenko, Russian envoy at the talks, said that the Contact Group will hold a session at ministerial level on September 27 in New York and is expected to adopt their address to Belgrade and Pristina.

“The direct talks for those involved in the conflict will be held the next day [September 28],” the Russian diplomat said. He also said that a regular meeting of the diplomatic troika with representatives from Serbia and Kosovo will be held in London on September 18-19. “Just like at the talks in Vienna there will be separate meetings with all sides involved in the conflict,” he said. “The agenda will be the same, i.e. the discussion of the future status of Kosovo. Moreover, a number of procedural issues will be discussed as well.” Meanwhile, Kosovo’s premier, Agim Ceku, has reiterated his readiness to declare independence from Serbia November 28. Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said Belgrade would eye “response measures” in case of the secessionist move.

The EU envoy, Wolfgang Ischinger, last Friday urged the bloc to find a common response in case the final round of talks on Kosovo failed, including a scenario for unilaterally declared independence, the EUobserver Web site said. After a vote on a draft resolution on Kosovo proposed by UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari, which granted the province internationally supervised independence, was cancelled by the UN Security Council, troika envoys launched a 120-day effort to end the stalemate over Kosovo. “There is a great risk that the troika will fail to reach an agreement [between Belgrade and Pristina] and therefore, the EU has to start preparing to speak with one voice after 10 December,” Ischinger said.

will be discussed along with issues surrounding migration and climate change. Ministers will try to overcome internal divisions over the future of the province and move towards a common position. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said it was a “major test” for European foreign policy. Miliband has said that Serbia must present plans which are acceptable to Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority if it continues to oppose independence for the province.

Kosovo has been a UN protectorate since NATO’s 78-day bombing campaign against the former Yugoslavia ended a conflict between Serb forces and Muslim Albanian separatists in 1999. The province has been striving for independence from Serbia ever since. Leaders of the Albanian majority have reportedly threatened to declare independence if last-ditch talks fail to secure an agreement by December 10th. Moscow, a staunch ally of Belgrade, believes that granting Kosovo sovereignty would violate Serbia’s territorial integrity and set a precedent for other breakaway regions, including those of the former Soviet Union. (,