Russia rejects new West-sponsored draft on Kosovo

UNITED NATIONS, May 31, 2007 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin rejected on Thursday an updated version of the draft UN resolution on Kosovo introduced to the Security Council by the United States and its European allies.

"The draft does include some minor changes, but it does not affect the main concerns and fundamental concerns" which Russia has expressed, Churkin told reporters after a council meeting.

"So under those circumstances, the introduction of this updated version of the draft has not changed anything as far as we are concerned," he said. "We continue to abide by our proposed elements.

He said during the council meeting he reiterated elements of Russia's major concerns to members of the council.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said the draft has been formally introduced to the council and there will be an expert meeting to discuss it Friday.

The new text, which was based on an earlier version circulated earlier this month, would "support" rather than "endorse" UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari's proposal for internationally supervised independence for Kosovo.

Another change is that the new draft asks UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to appoint a special envoy to report on the situation of displaced people in the region.

"The approach need to be changed," Churkin said. "Instead of endorsing the Ahtisaari proposal, which has not been agreed by the two sides (Kosovo and Serbia), we should encourage the parties to continue negotiations."

"We should continue to implement resolution 1244 and we should show more patience and perseverance," he added.

Kosovo, with 90 percent of its population being ethnic Albanians, has been run by the United Nations since 1999, when NATO bombings halted the Serbian crackdown on separatist Albanian rebels.