Washington, 7 October 2003 (RFE/RL) - The U.S. State Department is urging officials from Serbia and Kosovo to enter into serious talks next week in Austria when they meet for their first formal discussions since the end of the 1999 war. Spokesman Richard Boucher said yesterday that Washington saw the Vienna talks as an important part of the political process in the Balkans.
Boucher said the United States hopes that both the government of Serbia and Montenegro and leaders from Kosovo will approach them with serious intent and send appropriate high-level delegations.
The talks, set to begin on 14 October, will concentrate on issues such as transport, energy, missing people, and the return of those who were displaced by the conflict.
They will not touch on the most sensitive issue for the southern Serbian province -- its final political status.
The United Nations has been running Kosovo since the end of the war although the province legally remains part of Serbia.