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Yugoslavia: U.S. Envoy Wants Serbia To Talk With Kosovo Leaders

Pristina, 10 March 1998 (RFE/RL) - Robert Gelbard, the U.S. envoy to the Balkans, says the situation in Kosovo remains "extremely worrisome." Gelbard and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov are urging Belgrade to start talks with ethnic Albanians to "restore confidence" and "lower tensions" in the Serbian province. Gelbard spoke after meeting in Kosovo's provincial capital of Pristina with ethnic Albanian political leader Ibrahim Rugova. Rugova said the Contact Group on the former Yugoslavia yesterday took the first step toward solving the situation by calling on the UN Security Council to consider an arms embargo against rump Yugoslavia. The proposal was supported by the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Italy -- but not by Russia. Primakov said today it would be "counterproductive" to concentrate solely on sanctions against Belgrade.

Earlier today, President Boris Yeltsin said Russia should not take part in any peacekeeping operation in Kosovo. Russia currently has troops with the NATO-led stabilisation force in Bosnia (SFOR). So far, there are no plans to send international peacekeepers to Kosovo.

China said today that it opposes any intervention by the UN without Belgrade's approval. But Britain and the United States have rejected Belgrade's claim that violence in Kosovo is strictly a domestic matter.