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UN preparing to leave Kosovo

Pristina - The United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) was preparing to leave the province once its future status is defined, the UNMIK head Soren Jessen-Petersen said Thursday.

I think that the destiny of Kosovo is clear, it is in the hands of the political leaders and the people of Kosovo, Jessen-Petersen said after meeting the Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku in Pristina. I think that our role is changing rapidly - which is good.

UNMIK arrived in Kosovo in June 1999, days after NATO expelled Belgrade\'s security forces from the province in order to end ethnic repression targeting the vastly dominant ethnic Albanian population.

The UN have since governed Kosovo, based on the Security Council resolution 1244. They have however been transferring authority over to provisional local provincial institutions.

The talks on the future status of Kosovo were launched earlier this year under UN auspices in Vienna - six rounds were held so far.

Serbia insists on retaining sovereignty over Kosovo and offers a wide autonomy. Kosovo Albanian leaders want full independence quickly and are hoping to win it before the year expires.

Both UN and NATO have reduced their presence in Kosovo, which however remained ethnically troubled and plagued by spates of violence, now mostly targeting the minority Serbs.

'UNMIK has been engaged in downsizing, now for almost one year. This is logical, because we are preparing for exit when the Security Council defines Kosovo's status' Jessen-Petersen said.

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