June 12, 2008 / 11:26 AM / 11 years ago

Ban to give EU role in UN Kosovo mission-document

(Adds details, background)

BRUSSELS, June 12 (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told Kosovo’s leaders he intends to reshape the U.N. mission there to allow the European Union to take on key tasks, according to a letter obtained by Reuters on Thursday.

"It is my intention to reconfigure the structure and profile of the international civil presence to one that ... enables the European Union to assume an enhanced operational role in Kosovo in accordance with resolution 1244," he said in the letter to Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu.

In Pristina, Sejdiu told reporters: "I have received the letter from Ban. We cannot comment. We are still analysing it."

The move follows weeks of uncertainty over the international security presence in Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia on Feb. 17 but has won only partial recognition.

Ban said the reorganisation was necessary given the June 15 entry into force of Kosovo’s constitution.

Serbian ally Russia has opposed steps for a handover of the U.N. Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to the EU in activities such as police oversight, insisting the 27-member bloc has no mandate.

Details of the UNMIK shake-up were not immediately available but Ban said they would apply "for a limited duration and without prejudice to the status to the Kosovo".

Diplomats have said they expect Ban to set up arrangements under which the 2,200-strong EU mission — already months behind schedule because of the diplomatic logjam — will function autonomously but under the umbrella of a U.N. mandate.

Serb officials have said they expect to be granted extensive rights to administer the Serb-dominated north of Kosovo as part of the UNMIK reconfiguration, in what some analysts fear could be the first step towards a de facto partition. (Writing by Mark John; editing by Paul Taylor)

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