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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Urges Russia on Kosovo

UNITED NATIONS -- The United States urged Russia not to veto a UN resolution on Kosovo, saying the Security Council would be left without a role in the province's future and hinting that the ethnic Albanian majority might then declare independence.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said Friday that the United States and the council's European Union members, who sponsored the resolution, want action in "the next few days" and believe they have sufficient votes to adopt the latest draft, with Russia "the big question mark."

"The ball is in Russia's court," Khalilzad said in a conference call with several reporters.

The latest draft was circulated to all 15 Security Council members on Friday, and Khalilzad said the council would discuss it Monday and decide on the timing to put the resolution in final form for a vote. While Kosovo remains a province of Serbia, it has been under UN and NATO administration since a 78-day, NATO-led air war that halted a Serbian crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in 1999. In April, UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari recommended that Kosovo be granted internationally supervised independence -- a proposal strongly supported by its ethnic Albanians but vehemently rejected by its Serb minority, Serbia, and Russia.

In Moscow, Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov said Friday that alterations still had to be made to the latest draft on issues Moscow considered crucial. He did not elaborate.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hinted that Ahtisaari could be unfit to monitor talks between the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo. He said an "impartial international mediator" was needed.

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, visiting Serbia, cautioned that the latest draft was probably the last chance for a controlled political solution in Kosovo.

Meanwhile, Veton Surroi, an ethnic Albanian negotiator in talks with Serbia over Kosovo's future, said Saturday that Western powers should bypass Russia's opposition. "Russia cannot have a veto over historic processes in Europe," he said.