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Saturday, May 15, 1999 Published at 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK


UN 'regrets' embassy attack

The Council stood in silence in memory of the Chinese victims

The United Nations Security Council has finally agreed a statement expressing profound regret and distress at Nato's bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

Kosovo: Special Report
The deadlock had paralysed Security Council business for days, and the compromise removed threats against the renewal of UN peacekeeping mandates in Western Sahara and Tajikistan.

China had demanded a strong UN condemnation of the attack last week, but Nato countries rejected this.

China then proposed the word "deplore" which the Nato powers suggested be replaced by "lament", and so it went on.

BBC correspondent Mark Devenport: War of words might seem fairly irrelevant
Nato called the embassy bombing a tragic mistake. Its member states believed using either "condemning" or "deploring" in the statement would suggest the attack had been intentional.

After China and the US agreed on their "profound regret", the Council was able to move on to other business, passing a resolution by non-aligned countries to urge donors to provide humanitarian relief in Kosovo.

China and Russia, which had sought amendments to the resolution calling for an end to Nato bombing, abstained from the vote.

The resolution also expressed support for the principles agreed between Russia and G7 countries as a basis for a political solution in Kosovo.

Strong criticism

During the debate, the Russian and Chinese missions took the opportunity once again to criticise strongly the latest reports of civilians getting caught up in Nato's bombing.

Agreement on the wording came hours after Chinese President Jiang Zemin finally agreed to take a telephone call from his American counterpart.

President Bill Clinton apologised for the attack and offered condolences for the three people killed.

China was successful in getting Council approval to hold two minutes of silence for the victims who died in the Belgrade embassy - one minute before voting on the statement and one before voting on the humanitarian resolution.

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