U.N. Council to discuss Kosovo massacres
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 1 (Reuters) - The Security Council scheduled consultations for Thursday, at Britain's request, on the massacre of several dozen ethnic Albanian villagers in Kosovo by Yugoslav security forces.
But council sources said the likely outcome was the issuing of a press statement rather than holding a public meeting that would condemn the atrocities and possibly calling for an investigation.
Although such a statement carries much less weight than a resolution, or even a statement read out at a formal council meeting, the sources said the aim was to act quickly and avoid the need for council members to refer a text back to their capitals.
China, and perhaps other delegations, would almost certainly need to receive instructions on anything but a brief press statement.
Serbian security forces are reported to have killed at least 16 civilians, including 10 women and children, in the village of Gornje Obrinje last Saturday and another 18 people the same day in the Drenica region.
Any council statement is likely to remind Belgrade of a resolution that the council adopted last week demanding an immediate cease-fire and negotiations for a settlement of the crisis in the largely ethnic Albanian Serb province, where guerrillas of the Kosovo Liberation Army are waging a separatist campaign.
The resolution, directed principally at Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, warns of "further action and additional measures" in the event of non-compliance.
Graphic reports of the latest massacres have sparked widespread anger and strengthened calls for action by NATO, which has completed preparations for possible intervention in Kosovo, though this was not authorized by last week's council resolution.
Referring to the butchered villagers, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told reporters in Blackpool, England: "Most of those killed were women and children. This was not an act of war. This was plain cold murder. There must be no impunity for such an act of ethnic hatred."
U.N. Secretary-General Annan expressed outrage on Wednesday over eyewitness reports of the atrocities, especially since he said he had been assured during a meeting on Tuesday with Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic that no such actions were taking place.
Any further move by the council, beyond an initial condemnation of the massacres, is expected to await the publication of a report next week by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on whether Milosevic has been complying with the council's demands.
Britain's new U.N. ambassador, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, takes over the council presidency on Thursday for the first time. The post rotates each month among the council's 15 members.
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