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Kosovo: UN envoy welcomes upcoming Pristina-Belgrade talks in Vienna

8 October The head of the United Nations mission in Kosovo has labelled the next week's talks between leaders of Belgrade and Pristina governments as the only way to solve outstanding problems.

Harri Holkeri, the Special Representative of Secretary-General Kofi Annan for Kosovo and head of the UN Interim Administration Mission (UNMIK), said in a televised speech, "Dialogue is a way to generate both political and economic capital. It is a critical step, an absolutely imperative step, towards the kind of future that Kosovo deserves."

The text of the speech was released by UNMIK in Pristina today. The Belgrade-Pristina talks are scheduled for 14 October in Vienna.

Mr. Holkeri said, "If, and only if we talk, can we make progress on resolving the fate of missing persons. If, and only if we talk, can we help Kosovo's economy by solving outstanding problems in the sectors of energy, transport and communications. If, and only if we talk, can we facilitate the return of displaced persons and work towards the multiethnic society to which we have all committed ourselves."

Also scheduled to participate in the discussions are representatives of the so-called Contact Group - the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Russian Federation - as well as ministerial-level participants from NATO, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

"The issues to be discussed are the issues that matter to the daily lives of Kosovans," Mr. Holkeri said. "As Kosovo moves towards its European future, its leaders must be ready to talk with their neighbours - all their neighbours. This is what leaders do."



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