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Kosovar President Asks UN To End Its Mission

President Fatmir Sejdiu (file photo)
PRISTINA (Reuters) -- Kosovo has asked the United Nations to end its mission in the country as its presence is unnecessary one year after independence from Serbia, President Fatmir Sejdiu has said.

Officially, the United Nations remains in charge of Kosovo on the basis of a 1999 Security Council resolution.

"During these 10 years, Kosovo's institutions and the UNMIK [UN Mission] have marked good results in rebuilding the country," Sejdiu said after meeting UN governor Lamberto Zannier. "However, we think now it is time to close this mission successfully."

The Security Council's resolution followed the NATO bombing of Serbia to end a 1998-99 war between Serbian forces and ethnic Albanian guerrillas.

The Albanians make up 90 percent of Kosovo's population and most view the UN presence as an obstacle for broadening its international recognition.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008 and is recognized by 58 countries including the United States and most EU member states.

Serbia and its ally Russia, which is a permanent veto-wielding member of the council, have said they will never recognize an independent Kosovo.

Zannier said he will report Sejdiu's demand to the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Europe's newest republic is patrolled by 15,000 NATO troops, more than 2,000 European Union police and a justice mission.

Belgrade and 120,000 remaining Serbs have refused to cooperate with the Albanian-run government in Pristina and recognize the United Nations as the only legal body.

The United Nations has reduced its staff over the past year but wants to keep a small presence mainly in northern Kosovo where the inhabitants are mostly Serbs.