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Security Council Briefing on Kosovo and Other Matters

Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
New York City
May 10, 2007


Ambassador Khalilzad: Good morning. As you saw, we had a good morning. As you saw, we had an open discussion on the report of the mission to Kosovo. This is a difficult issue, a delicate issue, and the council will consult on the steps forward, and the drafting of a resolution.

In my capacity as the representative of the United States, I can say that we very much support and applaud the European leadership on this issue. That is one of the points that I emphasized in my statement. What I heard in Europe, that the Europeans are ready to play a lead role in the implementation of the Ahtisaari plan should it be adopted by the Security Council, that the Europeans believe that the current situation is not sustainable and that the ultimate future for both Kosovo and Serbia is integration into the EU. But to get from here to there, supervised independence is necessary.

And so we very much look forward to working with my colleagues on the Security Council on a resolution in the coming days. Thank you very much.

Reporter: Ambassador, would you say is now after these discussions, the Security Council is more divided or, let's say, united after all these --

Ambassador Khalilzad: Well, you saw that, in my judgment, the majority of the council members support the proposed plan, and there is an open-mindedness about strengthening some aspects such as dealing with the IDP issues. But we are going to talk with each other and see that we can get as broad as possible support for a resolution to move forward.

Reporter: Ambassador, what is supervised independence? Do you have some other examples of supervised independence and how efficient that particular type of independence might be? Can you --

Ambassador Khalilzad: Well, the question is what the alternatives are. This is, as I said, not easy, but compared to autonomy, the current situation continuing, we've heard when we were in Europe that that's not sustainable. There is the likelihood, if the current situation continues, for a unilateral declaration of independence, which will cause significant difficulty.

On the other hand, the Ahtisaari plan, which is the regulated, supervised independence, gives the international community a role; is better than unsupervised, without international role in what happens there.

So it's a choice. It's a difficult choice, but it's a better -- relatively speaking -- a better option than the other.

Reporter: When do we expect --

Reporter: Ambassador, as he went into the Security Council this morning, Ambassador Churkin said that on the basic point of endorsing the Ahtisaari report, the differences were irreconcilable. Do you agree with that? If not, why not?

Ambassador Khalilzad: Well, as I said, we are open to kind of strengthening some parts, particularly dealing with the IDPs, as Ambassador Churkin mentioned, the return of the IDPs. But we will see whether we can come to an agreement. I believe the votes are there for supporting the Ahtisaari plan, assuming there is no Russian veto.

Reporter: Sir, when do you expect you'll have -- when do you expect this resolution, sir?

Ambassador Khalilzad: We will start working on it in the coming days.

Reporter: What about the possibility -- what if the Russians did veto the resolution? What will be the plan?

Ambassador Khalilzad: Well, of course I am, well, you know what will happen if the Russians veto: that the Security Council cannot come to an agreement. But I don't think we are there at this point. Ambassador Churkin has not said that to me. We have heard the strong and clear views as to what option would be preferable from his point of view.

But as I said, this is a European issue. The Europeans have come up with what they think is the best way to deal with this. They are willing to take responsibility. They have a vision for integrating Serbia and Kosovo into the EU, and that this is a stage that, what Ahtisaari has planned in the process. And I think we ought to give deference and weight to the European perspective on this issue.

Reporter: Thank you. Thank you, Ambassador. This is a question on Lebanon. Today President Bashar Assad said that he will not cooperate with the tribunal. He will cooperate only with the commission. Do you have any comment on that?

Ambassador Khalilzad: Well, of course we are discussing what to do about the tribunal. We heard from Under Secretary-General Michel the other day that the establishment of tribunal is stuck internally because of the opposition of a minority in the Lebanese parliament that is not allowing the parliament to convene. We are consulting with other members of the Security Council to explore the option of establishing the tribunal, helping the Lebanese, in other words, to establish the tribunal under Chapter VII. Thank you very much. Have a good day.

Released on May 10, 2007

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