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Russia: Swirl Of Diplomatic Activity On Kosovo

Moscow/London/Beijing/Brussels, 20 May 1999 (RFE/RL) - Diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis over Kosovo continued today as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari were expected to hold talks in Moscow with Russian Balkans envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin. Several other international envoys on Yugoslavia, including the UN secretary-general's special representatives, Eduard Kukan and Carl Bildt, were also set to meet on the Balkan issue with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. There was no report yet on the outcome on either of the meetings.

Chernomyrdin held talks yesterday with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. He later said that the meeting marked "a step forward" in resolving the Kosovo conflict.

But Bildt said today in Brussels that there was no early diplomatic solution to the Kosovo conflict in sight, adding that one of the key problems was reaching agreement on an international security presence in the Serbian province.

NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana is to travel to London today for alliance strategy talks with Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Italian Prime Minister Massimo d'Alema told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels that the alliance should call a "pause" in air strikes as soon as the G-7 countries and Russia complete a draft UN resolution on the conflict. D'Alema said the pause could be used to determine if Belgrade is willing to accept the UN terms. In a related development, China today said that it would support a UN resolution on ending the Kosovo conflict, but insisted that NATO strikes be stopped immediately and Yugoslavia's consent must be assured for the implementation of any UN decisions.

Meanwhile, as political efforts to bring an end to the conflict in Kosovo intensify, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is developing plans for creating a new civil society in the southern Serbian province.

Officials at OSCE headquarters in Vienna say provisional talks have already begun on creating a new police force in Kosovo. Other OSCE groups are looking into the whole question of institution-building. This covers not only creation of a provisional government but also other institutions such as local authorities and a judiciary.