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UN Appoints Ex-Finnish President To Lead Kosovo Talks

Kosovar President Ibrahim Rugova (file photo) (epa) 1 November 2005 -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has chosen former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari to lead negotiations on the future of Kosovo.

Annan approved the start of negotiations on Kosovo's future status last month. Ahtisaari was Finland's president from 1994 to 2000.

He was the European Union's envoy in 1999 when he delivered NATO demands to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic during the Kosovo conflict.

Ahtisaari dropped out of national politics in 2000 to lead various international institutions in their efforts to promote peace and crisis resolution.

A spokesman, Muhamet Hamiti, for Kosovar President Ibrahim Rugova said the president has confidence Ahtisaari will consider "the will of the majority of the people in Kosova" in the negotiations on the province's future. Ethnic Albanians -- who comprise the majority in Kosovo -- are calling for independence from Serbia and Montenegro.

Serbia and Monenegro Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica reacted to the choice of Ahtisaari by reiterating his government's determination to not give Kosovo independence.


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