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UN Secretary General makes first visit to Kosovo
PRISTINA, Wednesday (AFP) -- United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived in Kosovo today for his first visit since the end of NATO's bombing campaign, with elections and security for UN personnel high on the agenda.
Annan's visit comes just two days after a UN employee was shot and killed in Pristina, apparently after he spoke in Serbian to a group of ethnic Albanians, and one of his main tasks is to allay mounting security concerns among international aid workers.
Welcomed by UN civil administrator Bernard Kouchner, Annan visited the headquarters of the UN Mission in Kosovo where he met members of the Kosovo Transitional Council. The 12-member council brings together Serb and Albanian leaders to deliberate on future elections, but has been boycotted for three weeks by the Serb side, who are demanding their own protection force. However the Serb representatives attended the meeting with Annan. The secretary-general was also due to meet General Klaus Reinhardt, commander of NATO-led forces in Kosovo, as well as local political, civic and religious leaders, UN officials said. The question of future elections is likely to be the main subject at many of Annan's meetings, the officials said. On Monday Kouchner said he hoped local elections could take place in the province next spring, but no date has been set. No list of eligible voters exists in Kosovo, and, before elections could take place, a census and a voting register would have to be compiled. Annan's tight schedule has been revised several times, largely because of security concerns. Officials said it had been decided Annan should have no contact with former KLA fighters. On Thursday, the UN chief will travel to the eastern part of the province, the scene of some of the worst Serb atrocities against ethnic Albanians during the war took place. Annan will visit a mosque and hold a press conference before leaving Kosovo tomorrow afternoon.
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