UN weakens West's resolve over Kosovo

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The Independent Online
DISAGREEMENTS AT the highest levels of the United Nations over whether force should be used against Serbia are threatening to derail Western efforts to stop the carnage in the province of Kosovo, senior diplomatic sources said yesterday.

Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary-General, is writing a report this weekend on whether Serbia is complying with the UN resolution demanding an end to its offensive in the province. But sources say that Mr Annan is unlikely to condemn Serbia outright.

Without a clear signal from the UN, some Nato governments will feel they do not have legal authority to bomb Serbia, even with proof that its forces are massacring civilians, including young children.

While awaiting Mr Annan's report, Tony Blair and other Western leaders maintained a verbal onslaught against President Slobodan Milosevic, warning that he faced a "military penalty" if he did not halt his attacks on Albanian civilians in Kosovo.

President Bill Clinton, who telephoned Mr Blair to talk about Kosovo and the world economy, told reporters: "We have to be very strong here. We need to stop the violence, get a negotiated settlement and work our way through this."

At a six-nation Contact Group meeting in London, the US tabled a draft political settlement for Kosovo that would give more autonomy to the ethnic Albanians.

Britain, Canada, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal have announced plans to send war planes to join the American forces already on stand-by.

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