G-8, Russia draft Kosovo proposal in Moscow talks
May 20, 1999
MOSCOW (CNN) -- Russia and the West have drafted a U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at settling the ongoing Yugoslav conflict, but the draft avoided several controversial issues, Russia's top diplomat said Thursday.
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov made the statement after meeting with Eduard Kukan, one of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's special envoys on Yugoslavia. The resolution is being drawn up under the terms set by the Group of Eight nations, made up of Russia and the seven major industrial powers.
Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, another of Annan's emissaries, said details of an international force to back up a peace agreement remained the sticking points in the talks. But he said he expected a deal would shortly follow the resolution of that issue.
"If we can sort them out, I'm quite certain that the others will seem rather minor," Bildt said.
The G-8 plan calls for the withdrawal of Yugoslav "military, police and paramilitary forces" from Kosovo. NATO seeks a total withdrawal of the 40,000-strong Serb forces, including regular troops.
It also calls for the deployment of "international civil and security presences," while NATO demands a well- armed international force with NATO at its core -- something Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has rejected in the past.
Sticking points in the talks remain coordinating the timing of a bombing pause and Yugoslav troop withdrawals. Russia continues to demand the pause in bombing take place before working out details of a troop withdrawal. NATO wants troops out before the bombing stops.
Bildt’s comments came as Russia's Balkan envoy, Viktor Chernomyrdin, was set to confer in Moscow with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, the European Union's representative on Yugoslavia. Bildt was scheduled to join the talks Friday.
Chernomyrdin was to brief the Western diplomats on his seven- hour session with Milosevic on Wednesday. Chernomyrdin is expected to return to Belgrade early next week with more talks.
A senior Russian Foreign Ministry official tells CNN he is "not that optimistic" about what was accomplished by Chernomyrdin in Belgrade, but said "small steps, small movements" were made.
Chernomyrdin and Milosevic reportedly agreed that any peace deal should be based on the principles of the G-8 plan, but that details must be negotiated directly with the United Nations. Milosevic's office said "the solution could be found only politically and within the United Nations, and with the active and direct participation of Yugoslavia, starting from the principles of G-8."
NATO, meanwhile, said the time had not yet come for a bombing halt, which Italy's premier suggested Thursday.
"Clearly what we suggest is not a unilateral cease-fire," Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema said Thursday. "But the possibility that faced with a concrete political perspective, weapons may cease to be used, there might be a pause in the military action to verify whether the conditions are there for a solution."
If Yugoslavia rejects a proposed settlement, NATO would continue its attacks, D'Alema said.
NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said D'Alema's suggestion was along the same lines as NATO has proposed, but that the time for a cease-fire has not yet arrived.
"It would be very pleasant to be there, but we're not there yet," Shea said. Milosevic must still accept NATO's conditions for an end to the bombing first, he said.
And as NATO continued its attempt to isolate Yugoslavia diplomatically, the alliance announced it would help Macedonia and Albania to obtain eventual membership in the alliance -- including and offer of direct military aid to Albania.
"We will be drawing up specific assistance programs for both countries to help them to meet the criteria for NATO membership," Shea said.
Both countries have pending applications to join the alliance, and have asked that their applications be sped up during the current crisis. Albania particularly is concerned by the large concentration of Yugoslav forces on its eastern border, where incidents of cross-border shelling and incursions by Serb troops have occurred frequently since the NATO air war began in March.
At their summit in Washington in April, NATO countries offered to extend protection to the countries on the front line of the Kosovo conflict, including Albania and Macedonia.
Serb officials say Yugoslavia 'ready to cut a deal'
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites:
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