Former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin’s seeming lack of success in both Washington and New York notwithstanding, the already frenetic pace of diplomatic maneuvering over Kosovo seems likely to intensify even more in the days to come. U.S. President Bill Clinton, accompanied by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, departed Washington for Europe yesterday. During a two-day visit, Clinton is to hold talks with NATO officials in Brussels and then to visit two U.S. military bases in Germany. Albright, in turn, will apparently take part in a meeting tomorrow of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G-7) leading industrial nations plus Russia. The meeting, to convene in Bonn, will be devoted to the Kosovo crisis (AP, Reuters, May 4).
Russia has repeatedly called for a meeting of the G-7 to discuss precisely that issue, but Washington had to this point rebuffed Moscow’s efforts. U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin said yesterday that the G-7 meeting would be “an attempt to try to clarify as many points as possible” regarding the Kosovo conflict, “and to bring Russia as close as possible to the common position of the other countries” (Reuters, May 4). Russia seems sure to try to push its agenda at the G-7 meeting–that is, for an immediate halt to the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia and for a greater UN role in the conflict.
Meanwhile, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official said in Bonn yesterday that G-7 diplomats conferring over the Kosovo crisis had produced a draft settlement agreement to which Russia had no objections. According to First Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Avdeev, the document envisions an international peace force being deployed in Yugoslavia under the UN flag. “It is thus no longer a matter of a NATO operation… but it is a matter of the UN working to unblock the conflict” in Kosovo (Itar-Tass, May 4).
YELTSIN: SPEAKING SOFTLY RATHER THAN WIELDING THE BIG STICK?