Russia will need "several days" to study a UN draft resolution designed to secure its support for plans to resolve the dispute over Kosovo's status, the ITAR-Tass news agency quoted a Foreign Ministry official as saying yesterday.
In a bid to win Russian support, Western nations revised a resolution to call for four months of intensive negotiations between the Serbian province's ethnic Albanian majority and Serb minority without any promise of independence if talks fail, according to a text obtained on Wednesday.
US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad said the sponsors -- Britain, France and the US -- had reached agreement on a revised resolution and were discussing it with their Russian colleague.
The text has been amended several times as Russia threatened to veto any solution that is not acceptable to its ally Serbia, which adamantly opposes independence for an Albanian-majority province it views as the cradle of its culture and religion.
An earlier draft by the sponsors failed to mollify Moscow by calling a 120-day pause in determining the future of Kosovo to allow for further talks between Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders and Serbia.
Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin called that draft "unacceptable" for a number of reasons including that with the prospect of independence after four months, the Kosovo Albanians would not engage in serious negotiations.
The revised version drops any automatic path to the supervised independence advocated by UN mediator Martti Ahtisaari at the end of the 120-day period. Instead it affirms the council's "readiness to review the situation further in light of those negotiations."
Diplomats said this would most likely be through another resolution to decide Kosovo's status if the parties cannot find common ground.
And the text limits the scope of the Ahtisaari settlement plan that would be implemented.
Ahtisaari had recommended that an International Civilian Representative (ICR), from the EU, oversee the implementation of the plan while having no direct role in administering Kosovo.
The ICR would be aided by a NATO-led military mission and an EU police force to "monitor, mentor and advise on all areas related to the rule of law."
The latest Western draft "decides that the mandate of the international civil presence shall terminate at the end of the 120-day transition period following adoption of this resolution."
It rules that the ICR would be empowered "to advance democratic, effective and inclusive governance and institutions, decentralization of local government, justice and the rule of law, protection of religious and cultural heritage and of property rights."
But the new proposal also makes clear that the status quo in Kosovo is unacceptable.
"The Russia Foreign Ministry has received the text of the new resolution on Kosovo's status. It is a voluminous document that is being studied by experts," ITAR-Tass quoted an unidentified ministry official as saying. The official added that "several days are needed to study the document."
While Kosovo remains a province of Serbia, it has been under UN and NATO administration since a NATO-led air war that halted a Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in 1999.