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Kosovo's status process can be concluded soon, top UN envoy says

30 September 2007 Following direct talks between Belgrade and Pristina, the Secretary-General's top envoy to Kosovo expressed optimism that the status process of the Serbian province - which the world body has run since western forces drove out Yugoslav troops in 1999 amid ethnic fighting - can be concluded soon.

Direct negotiations between both sides, the first to be led by the Troika comprising the European Union, Russia and the United States, were held on Friday in New York.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative Joachim Rucker yesterday said he welcomed the "New York Declaration" of the two parties reaffirming their commitment to engage seriously until the end of the process on 10 December.

"In this context, it is very important that the parties also reaffirmed their commitment to avoid provocations and refrain from any activities or statements that might jeopardize the security situation," Mr. Rucker said.

"It is too early to say what the final outcome of negotiations will be. However, it is significant that the Contact Group reaffirmed its Guiding Principles: that there be no partition of Kosovo, no union with another state, no return to the pre-1999 status, and that any settlement needs to be acceptable to the people of Kosovo."

On the eve of this first round of direct talks under the Troika-led negotiations, Contact Group Ministers said resolving of Kosovo's status quickly is crucial to the region's stability and security of the region and to Europe as a whole.

They reiterated their endorsement of the Mr. Ban's assessment that the status quo is cannot be sustained and is damaging for the Serbian province's political, social and economic development.

"It is also very significant that the Ministers stated that any settlement needs to be acceptable to the people of Kosovo," said Mr. Rucker.

They also voiced their appreciation for the work of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the Kosovo Force (KFOR) for their contributions towards a multi-ethnic, peaceful and democratic society.

"I wish to reassure all people of Kosovo that these efforts will continue," the Special Representative said.

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