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Russia Says Getting Serbs, Ethnic Albanians to Agree on Kosovo Difficult


Russia's special envoy for Kosovo has acknowledged it will be very difficult to get Serbs and Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders to agree on the future status of Serbia's breakaway province during a new round of talks.

Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko said Thursday that the two sides have preserved their diametrically opposite stands. Kosovo Albanians insist on independence, while Serbia adamantly rejects it.

The Russian diplomat rejected a December deadline for the deal. He said the United Nations secretary-general has set a December 10 deadline for the mediators' report on the progress of the talks. But he said there is no point in working on a resolution if there is no compromise.

The new round of talks over the contested province is to start in Vienna next week.

The talks are being mediated by envoys from the United States, the European Union and Russia.

Kosovo has been under U.N. administration since 1999, after NATO air raids ended Belgrade's crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.