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UN Selects Ethnic Albanians for Kosovo Talks with Serbs

Disagreements over the makeup of the Kosovo delegation are threatening Tuesday's scheduled first post-war talks between Serbian officials and the province's ethnic Albanian leaders.

News reports from Belgrade say the Serbian leadership reconsidered its participation after the United Nations administrator in Kosovo Harri Holkeri announced the delegation members. He said the province's President Ibrahim Rugova and Assembly Chairman Nexhat Daci will represent the Kosovo administration at the Vienna meetings. Mr. Holkeri said disunity among ethnic Albanian political parties had prevented representatives of the provincial government from joining the delegation. This, in effect, also excluded minority Serb and ethnic Turk representatives from participation. On Sunday, Kosovo's ethnic Albanian Prime Minister, Bajram Rexhepi, said he will not attend the U.N.-sponsored meeting because he believes such talks are premature. Kosovo lawmakers last week declined to discuss the makeup of the delegation to the talks.

Mr. Rexhepi said it is up to Kosovo officials, not the United Nations, to decide when such a meeting should be held and what its agenda should be.

The talks are expected to focus on issues of transport, energy and the return of refugees. U.N. officials say they will not include the sensitive issue of Kosovo's final status. The province's ethnic Albanian majority is seeking independence and it Serb minority wants Kosovo to remain part of Serbia. The Vienna talks would be the first such discussions since the end of the conflict in the province in the late 1990's.

The United Nations has administered Kosovo since 1999, when NATO airstrikes against Yugoslavia forced the Serbian military out of the area.