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Tuesday, June 8, 1999 Published at 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK

World: Europe

Russia and China discuss Kosovo plan

China is still angry about the bombing of its Belgrade embassy

By Duncan Hewitt in Beijing

Chinese President Jiang Zemin and his Russian counterpart Boris Yeltsin have spoken by telephone about the Kosovo peace plan.

Kosovo: Special Report
Chinese state media state President Jiang stressed that any solution must respect Yugoslav territorial integrity and both leaders reiterated that Nato must stop its bombing.

Earlier the Chinese leader met with the EU envoy, the Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, who said that despite Beijing's insistence that it will not allow discussion of a peace plan of the UN until the bombing has stopped, this need not be an obstacle to the solution.

Boris Yeltsin's telephone call to President Jiang Zemin provided an opportunity for both sides to repeat their criticism of Nato and to reiterate their belief that the Kosovo crisis should have been resolved through the UN from the start.

[ image: Nato continues to apply military pressure]
Nato continues to apply military pressure
The Chinese leader was quoted as stressing that the priority for any peace plan put before the Security Council must be that it respects Yugoslavia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

This remark did at least seem to bear out the view of Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari that the Chinese leadership wanted him to continue with the process of promoting the peace proposals.

Yet the Finnish president's suggestion, that the UN should approve a resolution on a peace plan before Yugoslav forces withdraw from Kosovo, seemed to clash with China's demands for a bombing halt before it allows any discussion at the UN.

Nevertheless Mr Ahtisaari said he was not too pessimistic, and that this should not become an obstacle.

China 'unlikely' to use veto

China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman earlier refused to be drawn on whether Beijing's call for an end to bombing meant a formal and permanent ceasefire, or whether a de facto bombing halt would be enough.

She said China had yet to see a draft UN resolution. But diplomats in Beijing said they believed it unlikely that China would use its veto if a peace plan agreed to by President Milosevic, with whom China has good relations, were put forward.

And while China continues to demand a full explanation for Nato's bombing of its embassy in Belgrade, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman implied this was not linked to Beijing's position on the question of the peace plan.

Observers said the visits by Mr Ahtisaari and before him, a senior German envoy, would go some way towards satisfying China's desire to be involved in a solution to the Kosovo question.

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