Be flexible on Kosovo, Russia urges YU

MOSCOW, Apr 1, 2000 -- (Reuters) Russia urged Yugoslavia on Friday to be flexible in its dealings with the international community over Kosovo.

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov made the comment at talks with Borislav Milosevic, who is Yugoslav ambassador in Moscow and the brother of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. His remarks were summarized in a Foreign Ministry statement.

The meeting followed recent signs of unease in relations between Yugoslavia and Russia, which has historically been the Great Power ally of the Serbs.

Ambassador Milosevic voiced disappointment last week that Russia did not help Yugoslavia more during the NATO bombing. Officials in Belgrade complained this week that Russia had slashed gas supplies without prior notice.

Ivanov said Russia stood by UN proposals for broad autonomy within Yugoslavia for Kosovo, which has been under NATO control since last year's 11-week air war.

Moscow also believes that Belgrade should be involved in any negotiations on the future of the territory, he said.

"The minister called on the Yugoslav side to display great flexibility and cooperation in relations with the international community with the aim of implementing all articles of UN Security Council resolution 1244," the Foreign Ministry statement said.

"We emphasized that, whatever the circumstances, we want to see Belgrade involved in the process of stabilizing the Balkans," it said.

"Without this, a long-term, durable settlement of the situation in the region is not possible."

Russia suspended ties with NATO but gave little direct aid to Yugoslavia during the aerial campaign and helped persuade Milosevic to accept international peace terms.

Milosevic has accused the international community of failing to fulfil the United Nations resolution on Kosovo and allowing continuing attacks on Serbs by extremist Kosovo Albanians.

American U.N. envoy Richard Holbrooke accused Milosevic last month of working to undermine security in Serb-populated parts of northern Kosovo with the aim of partitioning the province.

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