New York, 8 June 1999 (RFE/RL) -- A diplomat from a NATO country says the United States and Britain will vote for a U.N. Security Council resolution creating an international peacekeeping force for Kosovo before an agreement is signed by Serbia and the alliance.
The diplomat, who spoke Monday on condition of anonymity, said NATO was making no linkage between the council action and the signing of the peace accord which will lay out the timetable for the withdrawal of 40,000 Serbian troops and police and the introduction of international peacekeepers.
He said: "We hope to be able to pass the resolution before [the Serb generals sign]."
One possible scenario for ending the war is for the council to pass its resolution, the Serb side then sign a military agreement and a verifiable withdrawal begins. But it might not happen this way, either. The military agreement and withdrawal could come first, the diplomat said, the bombing would end and the council would then vote. For that to happen, he said, Yugoslavia, Russia and China would have to drop their demand for a resolution before withdrawal begins.
The diplomat said: "The bombing stops when the Serb forces start to withdraw, whatever agreements, whatever pieces of paper are signed. It may be, however, that the sequencing is the council agrees a resolution, the Serbs start withdrawing and the bombing stops, but we are not making each event dependent on the other."
U.S. President Bill Clinton has said NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia will not stop until Serb troops begin to withdraw from the province.
The resolution, however, could be held up because China and Russia continue to call for a halt in the bombing campaign before they will allow the resolution to pass. Moscow and Beijing hold veto power on the Security Council.
"For China, it is very important that the bombing should be stopped before we start discussing anything in the council," said Shen Guafang, China's deputy permanent representative to the U.N.
Russia's U.N. envoy, Sergei Lavrov, said: "The mechanism is to stop the bombing. Everything else comes after. This has been our position since the very beginning."
White House spokesman Joe Lockhart told reporters Monday Washington is hoping that China will not use its veto to kill the Security Council resolution. The Chinese has been upset because of the accidental NATO bombing of their embassy in Belgrade. They, like the Russians, have opposed NATO's military action from the beginning.
Talks between NATO and Serb military representatives about the withdrawal of Serbian troops and the introduction of the international force into Kosovo ran into problems early Monday when the Serbs demanded that the Security Council first pass its resolution and asked for more time to withdraw.
The resolution, which will set out NATO peace terms, was being worked out Monday near Bonn by foreign ministers of the seven leading industrial countries, plus Russia. The talks recessed until Tuesday (today) before a final draft could be agreed upon with Russia.
Security Council diplomats in New York are waiting for the resolution to be sent to them so they could begin discussing it behind closed doors with a view to a formal vote. That vote has been put off until at least Tuesday (today) and perhaps longer.
China, which was not represented at the meeting in Germany, has had no input into the drafting of the resolution. The NATO country diplomat said it will see the draft for the first time when it arrives in New York and will be able to propose changes. That could delay the vote further as diplomats check back with their capitals. The diplomat called Serbian military demands to have more time to dismantle mines in Kosovo and leave the province a "ploy to renege on something on which they have already agreed to."
He said: "We know what the Serbs are capable of in a few days because we saw it at the beginning of this campaign."