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Wednesday, October 13, 1999 Published at 17:22 GMT 18:22 UK

World: Europe

UN chief makes first Kosovo visit

Mr Annan, centre, with Mr Kouchner, left, and Gen Reinhardt in Pristina

United Nations chief Kofi Annan is making his first visit to Kosovo, two days after the brutal killing of a Bulgarian national who had just joined the UN civil administration in the territory.

Kosovo: Special Report
Mr Annan met Serb and ethnic Albanian leaders in the capital Pristina after being welcomed by his representative in the province, Bernard Kouchner.

After the talks, the prominent Kosovo Albanian moderate, Ibrahim Rugova, condemned the killing of the UN worker, but said security was getting better.

Paul Wood in Pristina: Balkans visit at a time of great stress for the UN
Former Kosovo Liberation Army political chief Hashim Thaci agreed that security was improving.

He also said he expected a solution to the extended Albanian blockade of the town of Orahovac against the deployment of Russian peacekeepers.

The Kosovo Serb leader, Momcilo Trajkovic, said his attendance at the meeting with Mr Annan did not mean his community would end its boycott of the multi-ethnic committee which advises the UN.

[ image: Mr Trajkovic met Mr Annan, but will still boycott the UN]
Mr Trajkovic met Mr Annan, but will still boycott the UN
The Serbs are protesting against the use of disbanded KLA members to form a new civilian Kosovo Protection Corps.

The UN secretary-general was scheduled to visit the town of Gracanica, home of one of the Serb Orthodox church's most revered monasteries, later on Wednesday.

Mr Annan, who did not make any comment after the talks, also met the new German K-For commander General Klaus Reinhardt, who took over command of the 50,000-strong Nato-led peacekeeping force from General Sir Mike Jackson last week.

UN stress

Correspondents say Mr Annan's visit to Kosovo comes at a time of great stress for the UN in Kosovo and for international UN operations in general.

[ image: The international presence could end up being seen as the enemy by both sides]
The international presence could end up being seen as the enemy by both sides
Many western officials see the murder of the Bulgarian Valentin Krumov as just the latest sign of a growing intolerance in Kosovan society.

Mr Krumov died in Pristina on Monday after being brutally beaten by a crowd and then shot.

International police said he was killed after speaking Serbian to a group of teenagers when asked the time. He had just arrived in the territory.

K-For has pointed out that levels of violence are falling, but the BBC's Paul Wood in Pristina says Nato and UN personnel privately fear that they will increasingly be seen as the enemy as they attempt to establish civil society in Kosovo.

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