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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

UN Sent Draft for Peace in Kosovo

COLOGNE, Germany -- The West and Russia reached a landmark accord Tuesday that could bring peace to the Balkans, agreeing on a draft UN Security Council resolution to end the Kosovo conflict.

NATO hailed the agreement as "a clear road map" that could show the way to an early end to the crisis.

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said after the session in Cologne that NATO could end its bombing campaign against Yugoslavia within days if Belgrade complied with the terms of the international peace settlement.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said international forces could move into Kosovo this week if Serbian leaders did not drag their feet on pulling their troops out of the province.

After two days of talks between foreign ministers of the Group of Seven industrial powers and Russia, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said: "We have finally achieved a breakthrough by agreeing on a Security Council resolution."

Meanwhile, the airstrikes continued, with bombs blasting targets in Kosovo earlier Tuesday and turning oil refineries near Belgrade and in northern Serbia into blazing infernos.

NATO sources said a B-52 bomber caught two Yugoslav Army battalions in the open on Monday after Serbia stalled on pulling its troops out of Kosovo and many hundreds of troops may have been killed.

The B-52 dropped sticks of gravity bombs on the troop concentrations near the Kosovo-Albania border, carpeting a hillside area where some 400 to 800 soldiers were estimated to have been in the field.

The draft UN resolution was introduced to the full 15-member Security Council on Tuesday.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said further discussions would be needed in the Security Council on the make-up of an international peacekeeping force for Kosovo.

Representatives in the United Nations from Russia and China - two of the five permanent members of the Security Council - said the bombing should be halted before the resolution is adopted.

U.S. and British envoys, however, believe the text could be adopted by Wednesday or at the latest Thursday, depending on negotiations on the withdrawal of Serbian troops from Kosovo that would lead to a bombing pause.

Fischer said the Cologne agreement opened the way to finalizing a military agreement between NATO and Yugoslav commanders on a complete Serbian withdrawal from Kosovo and the deployment of an international peacekeeping force.

The talks in Macedonia, which were suspended Sunday, were to resume late Tuesday, a NATO spokesman said.

In Washington, President Bill Clinton said the key now was implementation.

"A verifiable withdrawal of Serb forces will allow us to suspend the bombing and go forward with the plan. NATO is determined to bring the Kosovars home," he said, referring to hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians who have been driven out of Kosovo by Serb forces.

The Cologne breakthrough came after an overnight break when Ivanov consulted Moscow. He told the ministers he had spoken to President Boris Yeltsin and then presented his proposals.

U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin told reporters the resolution "meets all of our objectives and that will have all the necessary decisions to have the peacekeeping force with NATO at its core to operate in Kosovo."

Rubin said the resolution allowed for a Kosovo peacekeeping force with a unified command and control.

Earlier on Tuesday, Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev said his ministry had drawn up proposals for sending up to 10,000 troops to a peacekeeping force in Kosovo, but they would not be under NATO command.

Clinton said later Russian troops would not have to fall under NATO command. "I don't expect that to happen. But I do expect that there will be an acceptable level of coordination," he told reporters.

Russia, which has religious and cultural ties with the Serbs, has been striving to maintain a significant independent role for its own troops alongside a planned 50,000-strong NATO-led peace force.

Clinton told Yeltsin by phone on Tuesday that he was dispatching Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott to Moscow to work out details of Russian participation in a Kosovo force.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said she did not expect Russian troops to be in command of their own sector of Kosovo when an international security force took over there. She said it was important that NATO was "embedded" in every sector of Kosovo.

In the Albanian capital, a member of the self-styled provisional government of Kosovo said Tuesday that the presence of Russian troops in the province as part of a peacekeeping force would be a threat to returning refugees.

"There are a great number of Russians participating in the criminality conducted in Kosovo by Serb 'soldateska,'" Bajram Kosumi, who was a delegate at the Rambouillet peace talks in March, said at a news conference.

"Their presence in Kosovo represents an enduring threat to Kosovar deportees and will create future obstacles to their return."