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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

UN Security Council Takes Up Kosovo Plan




UNITED NATIONS -- Ambassadors of the seven major industrialized nations and Russia held talks Tuesday ahead of a UN Security Council meeting to introduce a resolution ending the Kosovo conflict.


The Security Council scheduled consultations on Kosovo at noon in New York (8 p.m. Moscow time), just hours after foreign ministers of the so-called Group of Eight agreed on a draft resolution in Cologne, Germany.


Diplomats said they expected the resolution to be introduced at the meeting, but they did not expect any action by the council until Wednesday at the earliest.


Eight of the council's 15 members played no part in negotiating the text and will be seeing the draft for the first time - Brazil, Gabon, Gambia, Malaysia, Namibia, Slovenia, Argentina and Bahrain. Their ambassadors will have to send the draft to their governments for approval, diplomats said.


China is the only veto-wielding, permanent member of the council that did not participate in drafting the peace deal, but the government in Beijing has seen the text, diplomats said.


Western diplomats said, however, that they expect China may need additional time before it is ready to adopt a resolution.


Beijing has insisted that NATO stop bombing Yugoslavia before the council discusses a resolution - a demand that Chinese President Jiang Zemin reiterated Tuesday to Russian President Boris Yeltsin. In a significant concession to both Russia and China, the G-8 agreed Tuesday to a bombing halt before the council approves a resolution.


Under the peace plan, the Security Council must authorize an international force and civilian administration that would be dispatched to Kosovo under UN auspices to ensure the safe return of the estimated 850,000 refugees. The Yugoslav government agreed to the peace deal last Thursday.


At Tuesday morning's meeting, the G-8 ambassadors were joined by ambassadors from the Contact Group on Yugoslavia, which has also worked on a peace settlement. Chinese representatives were expected to join the talks later, Western diplomats said.


The council had been expected to meet Tuesday morning to discuss a possible statement or resolution on the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. But council president Baboucarr-Blaise Jagne of Gambia canceled the meeting, saying it was "not an appropriate time" for council action on the Horn of Africa conflict.


UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday night that he hoped the council would adopt a resolution within 24 hours after its approval by the G-8.


"We should then move on with the troops," he said.When Annan arrived at UN headquarters Tuesday morning, he said he had spoken with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fisher, who were both "quite relieved" that there was agreement on a resolution.


"I expect it to be at the council today [Tuesday]. I hope whatever hurdles there may be will not be insurmountable," the secretary-general said.


While the international military force that goes into Kosovo will have a ready-made command structure, Annan said Monday night that people will have to be recruited from around the world on the civilian side.


The Kosovo Liberation Army gave the United States a commitment Tuesday that KLA guerrillas would let Serbian forces withdraw from Kosovo without attacking them.


"The KLA very soon will declare that it will refrain from attacking any retreating Serb forces," KLA representative Hashim Thaqi told reporters after talks with Albright in Cologne.


Asked when the KLA would make the declaration, he said: "Either today or tomorrow." Under a peace deal agreed to with Milosevic last week, about 40,000 Yugoslav and Serbian troops are expected to pull out of the province to let in a NATO-led force of up to 50,000.


Albright confirmed that she received the same message from the KLA during a two-hour meeting with Thaqi and two political representatives of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian community, Ibrahim Rugova and Rexhep Qosja.


The KLA also promised to give up its military functions after an international peacekeeping force moved into Kosovo to take the place of withdrawing Serbian troops, as envisaged in the Rambouillet agreement signed in March, the secretary of state said.


"The KLA will demilitarize and enter into a process of transformation. Kosovo's political leaders will, I hope, cooperate to make Kosovo truly democratic," she said.


Thaqi, who has been head of the KLA's political department and its main contact withthe United States, said the KLA planned to change into a "political entity."


"We have cooperated and will continue to work together closely with the international community, both on the military aspect and the political aspect," he added.


Thaqi said he was confident that all elements of the KLA would abide by the agreement not to attack the Serbs, who have driven hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians out of Kosovo in what the West has branded a campaign of ethnic cleansing.