Source Pravda.Ru

Kosovo advisory group meets in Washington to deal with moves toward political settlement

U.S. and European diplomats are comparing notes on efforts to achieve a political settlement in Kosovo.

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns hosted a dinner Wednesday at a Washington restaurant for colleagues from Britain, France, Italy, Russia and Germany.

All the countries are members of the Kosovo Contact Group, which was set up to offer advice on settling the status of the predominantly ethnic Albanian province of Serbia.

Joining the discussion was Martti Attishari, expected to be appointed chief envoy overseeing the Kosovo status talks this year. A NATO representative also attended.

In a letter to Burns on Monday, Kosovo's president, Ibrahim Rugova, said the province's political forces and people "remain committed to work closely with you.

"The people of Kosovo are determined to have an independent and sovereign state," Rugova said.

He added that such a state would respect the rights of all its people including minorities, fight organized crime and terrorism and ensure good neighborly relations with all the countries in the region, including Serbia.

There is strong Serbian opposition to creation of an independent Kosovo from the province in which a 1999 NATO air war ended an ethnic crackdown by Yugoslavia's Serb leader, Slobodan Milosevic.

Wednesday's talks occurred a week after the U.N. Security Council endorsed starting talks on Kosovo's future.

The ethnically divided province has been run by the United Nations since the NATO air war.

State Department officials said no comment was expected on the dinner discussion before Thursday, AP reported. V.A.