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No deal struck over Kosovo's future, report says.

NEW YORK, Dec. 7 Kyodo

Mediators from the European Union, Russia and the United States said in a report Friday that neither Belgrade nor Pristina gave in on the divisive issue of Kosovo's future status, despite four months of mediation efforts for Serbians and ethnic Albanians.

''The parties were unable to reach an agreement on the final status of Kosovo,'' said the report submitted to the U.N. secretary general. ''Neither party was willing to cede its position on the fundamental question of sovereignty over Kosovo.''

''This is regrettable, as a negotiated settlement is in the best interests of both parties,'' it said.

The so-called troika has been trying to facilitate discussions between the Serbia's government and the Kosovo Albanians through a series of intense, high-level negotiations over the last 120 days, but was unable to move forward, despite discussing multiple options, ranging from full independence to substantial autonomy.

A political process to determine the future status of Kosovo has been under way for over two years, the report said.

In November 2005, Martti Ahtisaari was appointed by the U.N. secretary general as his special envoy and some 15 months later delivered his recommendation of a supervised independence, along with measures to ensure protection of Kosovo's non-Albanian minorities.

Although Pristina backed Ahtisaari's proposal, Belgrade rejected it. Later the contact group -- consisting of France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Britain and the United States -- proposed that the troika undertake another set of negotiations that were supported by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in August. At that time, Ban requested a report by Dec. 10.

Since 1999, Kosovo has been under the supervision of the United Nations after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization began bombing raids to prevent Serbian forces from driving out the ethnic Albanians. Under the previous resolution 1244, the Security Council authorized the United Nations to provide an interim authority while recognizing the territorial integrity of Serbia.

While the report did not present a way forward, its authors recognized the value of the discussions calling the process ''a useful one'' and obtained from both parties their promises not to jeopardize the security situation in Kosovo or to use violence, threats or intimidation.

''They made these commitments without prejudice to their positions on status,'' the report noted. ''Both parties must be reminded that their failure to live up to these commitments will affect the achievement of the European future that they both seek.''

Meanwhile, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin defended the negotiations that some had described as a failure, and insisted that even though there was no final outcome, the exercise was beneficial.

''We believe that certainly the talks reveal that a solution is possible, that it would be a solution which would answer all the reasonable, practical requirements,'' he said. ''It would be a solution which would ensure respect for international law, regional and international stability, and stability and prosperity of Kosovo itself.''

Churkin also announced intentions earlier in the day of circulating key elements for a presidential statement that would encourage the contact group to continue supporting the negotiating process.

The Security Council is scheduled to discuss this report on Dec. 19.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Geographic Code:4EXYU
Date:Dec 8, 2007
Words:526
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