Russia, NATO in row over Kosovo, NATO expansion

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on Monday asked Russia not to block a United Nations Security Council resolution which may lead to the independence of Kosovo but a senior Russian legislator said it will use its veto.

"It is highly probable that Russia will veto the U.N. Security Council resolution granting independence to Kosovo," Chairman Sergei Mironov of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russian parliament said in a Ekho Moskvy radio program.

NATO expects to solve the Kosovo issue at the United Nations as soon as possible by adopting the UN resolution consisting of Martti Ahtisaari's plan, Scheffer was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.

U.N. Kosovo envoy Martti Ahtisaari has proposed internationally supervised independence for Kosovo, a move backed by the United States, most EU countries and Kosovo's Albanian leaders but rejected by Serbia and its traditional ally Russia.

Moscow insisted that the future status of the Serbian province should be decided after all concerned sides, especially Serbia, have agreed on it.

"We suggest continuing talks and look for settlement together. One should not forestall events and create prerequisites for Kosovo's independence," said Mironov, who also voiced concern at NATO's eastward expansion.

"Russia is concerned by a geographic expansion of NATO, which has no grounds," the parliament leader was quoted as saying at a Russian-NATO conference held on Monday in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Scheffer, however, said the alliance's enlargement was not a threat to Russia and there's no talks on membership with the former Soviet republic Georgia.

Russia has been worried about the enlargement of NATO as it has admitted 10 former Eastern Bloc states, including three former Soviet Baltic republics, since early 1990s.

Kosovo, with 90 percent of its population made up of ethnic Albanians, has been run by the United Nations since 1999.

Its future status talks between Kosovo's Albanian majority and Serbian authorities were first officially launched in November 2005, but ended in vain.

Source: Xinhua

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