( Reuters ) - The United States and Russia clashed anew over Kosovo on Tuesday, as Washington's U.N. envoy said Serb-Albanian talks needed to end in two months while Moscow's called for them to carry on until agreement.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said a premature end to negotiations, leading Kosovo Albanians to declare independence, would destabilize the region, a prospect he described as unacceptable.
But U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said what would be destabilizing is prolonged further uncertainty over the future of the Serbian province, which has been under U.N. administration for the past eight years.
The U.N. Security Council has given Belgrade and the ethnic Albanians who make up 90 percent of Kosovo's population until December 10 to try to agree on whether the province would be independent or an autonomous region of Serbia.
But, speaking after the council was briefed by U.N. Kosovo envoy Joachim Ruecker, Churkin said, "One should not have the impression that somehow December 10th is necessarily the end of the world as far as the negotiating process is concerned."
Churkin, whose country strongly supports Serbia, told reporters that at that point the council could decide to continue the talks. He called on the international community to make the parties focus on a negotiated outcome.
"The other scenario is unacceptable, because any kind of hypothetical scenarios of unilateral proclamations of independence will get nobody anywhere," he said. "There will be no stability in Kosovo, no stability in the region and no stability internationally."