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UN Puts off Vote on Kosovo


European and U.S. diplomats at the United Nations have shelved a draft resolution on the future status of Kosovo, deciding not to call a vote in the face of a promised Russian veto. Victoria Cavaliere reports from VOA's New York bureau that the diplomats say they intend to pursue the issue of Kosovo's status outside the Security Council.

U.S. and E.U. officials say they regret that the U.N. Security Council could not hammer out a deal on the future status of Kosovo, a province of Serbia that has been administered by the U.N. since 1999.

The draft resolution would have given Kosovo and Serbia 120 days to try to reach a compromise on the province's status, after which time Kosovo's administration would be transferred to the European Union.

Russia, a Serb ally, had repeatedly pledged to veto the measure, saying it granted Kosovo a backdoor to independence from Belgrade. Serbia rejects independence for Kosovo, but has offered it "special autonomy."

On Friday, western diplomats said the stalemate left them no choice but to scrap the resolution. France's U.N. ambassador, Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, said the issue would now move outside of the United Nations.

"It has been impossible to secure a resolution in the U.N. Security Council," he said. "Our latest draft resolution calls for a period of time-limited discussions. We have decided to renew discussions within the contact group, and with the parties along these lines."

The Contact Group of Balkan advisers is made up of the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Russia. The informal group discusses problems in the former Yugoslavia, and no member has veto power.

However, the issue of how to transfer Kosovo from U.N. administration without a U.N. resolution still remains unclear. La Sabliere said all outstanding issues must be resolved soon.

"If Kosovo's future status remains undefined, there is a real risk that the progress achieved by the United Nations and the institutions in Kosovo can begin to unravel," said La Sabliere.

In Pristina Friday, Kosovo's prime minister called on parliament to declare unilateral independence from Serbia on November 28 because of the stalemate between the West and Russia at the United Nations.

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