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UN Security Council Considers Rival Proposals for Kosovo

The U.N. Security Council is considering two separate proposals for a resolution on the future of Kosovo. From U.N. headquarters, VOA's Peter Heinlein reports one plan endorses Kosovo's independence, the other urges a go-slow approach.

The United States and European members of the Security Council have circulated elements of a resolution that would lead to independence for Kosovo, under European supervision. The elements endorse recommendations made by U.N. special envoy Martti Ahtisaari, who wrote in a recent report that 'independence is the only viable option' for the breakaway Serbian province.

Serbia staunchly opposes the Ahtisaari plan, and its ally, veto-wielding Council member Russia, is offering a counter-proposal. The Russian plan calls the idea of independence 'premature', and urges more negotiations.

Moscow insists than any solution for Kosovo's future be acceptable not only to the region's 90 percent ethnic Albanian majority, but also to the Serb minority. Russian diplomats have repeatedly said they could not support any Council resolution calling for Kosovo's independence.

But a spokesman for the Russian mission to the United Nations Tuesday said it is too early to discuss the possibility of a veto.

Washington's U.N. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said he had not heard any veto threat in his talks with his Russian counterpart Vitaly Churkin.

"They have not made that threat to me," said Zalmay Khalilzad. "We are working with them."

American diplomats have said Kosovo is a top priority during this month's U.S. Security Council presidency. Ambassador Khalilzad said he expects the Council to take up the issue in the next few days.

"We're discussing with colleagues on a date for the discussion to take place, and that discussion will take place in the next couple of days, in my view," he said. "And we are looking forward to working with our Russian colleagues."

Critics of the Ahtisaari plan say it sets a dangerous precedent by violating the territorial integrity of a U.N. member state. In the elements circulated by the U.S. and European members, however, Kosovo is described as a 'special case', in view of what it calls the 'non-consensual breakup' of the former Yugoslavia, and the violence and repression that afflicted the region in the 1990s.

Kosovo has been under U.N. administration since 1999, after a three-month NATO bombing campaign drove Serb forces from the former Yugolslavia out of the province.