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Talks between Serbian, Kosovo Albanian fail

Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority wants independence but Belgrade and Kosovo's minority Serb community insist the region is part of Serbian territory.

india Updated: Jul 25, 2006 04:03 IST

The talks between Serbian and Kosovo Albanian leaders have failed to produce a breakthrough in solving the sensitive issue of the province's future status, as the two sides remained entrenched in their rival positions, officials have said.

When asked if there had been any breakthrough, UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari, who have chaired the talks, said: "No. I would be lying if I said so."

"It was the first meeting of this kind. It would be totally wrong from my side to expect any breakthrough," Ahtisaari told reporters at the end of the one-day meeting on Monday.

The unprecedented talks were the first chance for the Serbian and Kosovo Albanian leadership to meet face-to-face and directly exchange their opposing views on Kosovo's future since a NATO air war drove Belgrade's forces from the province in 1999.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority wants independence but Belgrade and Kosovo's minority Serb community insist the region is part of Serbian territory that cannot be given away.

"They are as far apart as possible: Belgrade would accept everything but independence, while Kosovo Albanians will accept nothing but independence," Ahtisaari said.

But the UN official played down the disappointment with such an outcome, describing the talks as "frank and candid", and adding that the atmosphere was "better than I could have expected."

Speaking after Ahtisaari, Serbian President Boris Tadic said the "talks were good" despite the "totally different positions" of both sides. Tadic insisted that Serbia was "against any imposed solution on Kosovo.