Russia needs "several days" to study U.N. Kosovo resolution

Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday that Russia would need "several days" to study a U.N. draft resolution designed to secure its support for plans to resolve the dispute over Kosovo's status, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency report.

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 Wednesday.

"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."

Russia had dismissed as unacceptable the previous draft. That version also called for four months of negotiations between the two sides on the province's future status - but it would have authorized an automatic road to independence if there was no agreement, unless the U.N. Security Council decided otherwise.

Russia's U.N. 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.

While Kosovo remains a province of Serbia, it has been under U.N. and NATO administration since a NATO-led air war that halted a Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in 1999. In April, U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari recommended that Kosovo be granted internationally supervised independence - a proposal strongly supported by the province's ethnic Albanians but vehemently rejected by its Serb minority and by Serbia and Russia.

Russia has repeatedly emphasized that it will not support an outcome opposed by its traditional ally Serbia.

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