UN meets on Kosovo clashes
New York - The United Nations Security Council met to discuss recent ethnic clashes in Kosovo, but refused a request from Belgrade to hold an open session with Serbian participation.
The clashes between Kosovar police and members of the Serb minority in the north had died down, but the situation remained precarious, Under Secretary General for peacekeeping operations Alain Le Roy told the council late on Thursday.
It was also a good sign that the political leaders of both sides had called for restraint, he said, adding that the deployment of Nato's KFOR troops had helped stabilised the situation.
The meeting in New York came after negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo earlier on Thursday failed to find an agreement. The Serb government has called a special parliamentary session for Saturday.
Violence broke out on Tuesday after Pristina ordered police to take control of border points in the Serb-dominated north of the mostly ethnic Albanian territory.
One policeman died after local Serbs stormed a checkpoint, and another border crossing was torched on Wednesday. No major incident was reported on Thursday, and KFOR had cordoned off the border posts.
Tensions on the ground
The 15-member UN Security Council discussed the situation for several hours behind closed doors.
A request from Serbia for an open emergency session was refused out of concerns it would agitate tensions on the ground, despite the Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic making the trip specially.
Jeremic did meet personally on Thursday with the German Ambassador to the UN Peter Wittig. Germany chairs the Security Council for the month of July.
Kosovo was a Serbian province with an ethnic Albanian majority until it declared independence in 2008. But the government remains unable to assert control in the northernmost section, where the Serbs dominate.
Kosovo Serbs have had political and financial support from Belgrade and have often resorted to violence whenever the pressure on them to submit to authority has increased.
The Kosovar government has passed a resolution vowing to bring the northern parts of the territory more firmly under the control of Pristina.
Opposition nationalists in Belgrade have blamed Kosovo for stirring trouble. Many members of the Serb government have accused KFOR of taking the Kosovar side in the conflict.