Negotiations Stall on UN Resolution
BONN, Germany (AP) _ Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and foreign ministers negotiating Balkan peace failed to agree Monday on a U.N. resolution critical to ending the Kosovo crisis, after the Russian delegation contested three key points and requested time to consult with Moscow.
Despite the stalemate on the resolution and details of withdrawing Serb troops from Kosovo, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic offered assurances that he intends to carry out a peace agreement, a U.S. official said.
Western officials indicated that the talks were stalled on NATO’s insistence that it be at the core of a peace force. Discussions among Albright and the other ministers are set to resume Tuesday.
Such military issues have stymied the delicate diplomatic efforts from the start, and a related disagreement over withdrawal of Serb forces from Kosovo derailed high-level military talks in Macedonia on Sunday.
Under the peace plan, the U.N. Security Council must authorize an international force and civilian administration that would be dispatched to Kosovo under U.N. auspices to ensure the safe return of the estimated 850,000 refugees.
Neither German Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, nor his Russian counterpart, Igor Ivanov, would elaborate on the issues stalling the talks.
``I could but I don’t want to,″ Fischer told reporters after the talks broke off for the night. ``We hope we will solve all the open points to the degree we can, then have a constructive effort in the (U.N.) Security Council.″
Fischer emphasized that the ministers from Russia and the world’s seven major industrial nations had agreed to 17 points under the 20-point resolution, and underlined their determination to come up with a final draft when they resume talks Tuesday.
British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said that no compromises were on the table in the peace deal Yugoslavia accepted Thursday.
But British officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that sticking points revolved around the definition of the international ``security presence″ agreed to by the eight nations in Kosovo peace principles last month.
In contention was whether a peace force would be under NATO or U.N. command, and whether would its mandate would be peacekeeping or peace enforcement, the latter implying the use of force.
A Russian delegation official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Russia was insisting on a halt in bombing before it approves the resolution.
James P. Rubin, the State Department spokesman, downplayed the objection. ``The Russians have made no secret of the fact that they would rather have the bombing stop yesterday, the day before yesterday, or even 73 days ago,″ he said.
The European Union’s Kosovo envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, meanwhile, was en route to Beijing to win Chinese backing for the resolution. China, along with Russia, said NATO airstrikes must stop before the accord can be brought before the U.N. Security Council. Both countries hold permanent seats on the Security Council and have veto power.
Before leaving, Ahtisaari spoke to Milosevic by telephone and relayed assurances to the diplomats meeting here that the Yugoslav leader would endorse the peace plan agreed to Thursday.
Despite the breakdown in military talks in Macedonia, Ahtisaari told Albright and the other foreign ministers that, ``Milosevic says he intends to go forward with the agreement,″ Rubin said.
Albright and the other foreign ministers were working on the text of a U.N. resolution that Rubin said directs the Serbs to ``stop putting forward proposals that are inconsistent with the agreements they signed.″
The Serbs say they are required to withdraw only to ``peacetime″ levels, or about 15,000, one U.S. official said. The NATO allies, however, are demanding a total pullout, with a few hundred Serb troops then permitted to return as a symbol of Serb sovereignty in the province.
The text also endorses having NATO at the core of the peacekeeping force that would help hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians return to their homes, according to Rubin.
The Russian delegation was objecting to that language, according to British officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The Russians also were balking at a preamble referring to the war-crimes indictment of Milosevic and to one article in the resolution that would empower peacekeepers to take ``robust″ military measures to ensure peace.
Rubin flatly blamed the Yugoslavs for the impasse in the Macedonia talks. He said Yugoslav military leaders had failed to give NATO commanders an adequate plan for the withdrawal of Serb troops from Kosovo _ and that NATO’s bombing campaign would continue until they did.