U.N. council condemns Belgrade embassy attacks

Thu Feb 21, 2008 7:32pm EST
 
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UNITED NATIONS, Feb 21 (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council strongly condemned what it called "mob attacks" on U.S. and other embassies in Belgrade on Thursday sparked by anger at Western support for Kosovo's declaration of independence.

A statement by the 15-nation council recalled the inviolability of diplomatic missions under an international convention but welcomed steps by Serbian authorities to restore order.

The unanimous statement was issued after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad expressed outrage at the attacks and said he would demand that the council condemn them.

The main violence in Belgrade was against the U.S. embassy, which was set on fire, but attacks were also reported against the missions of Germany, Croatia, Britain, Turkey and Bosnia.

"The members of the Security Council condemn in the strongest terms the mob attacks against embassies in Belgrade, which have resulted in damage to embassy premises and have endangered diplomatic personnel," the statement said.

It recalled that a 1961 Vienna Convention obliged host governments to protect embassies, but also said the council "welcomes the steps taken by the Serbian authorities to restore order and protect diplomatic property and personnel.

The statement was toned down from an original draft which used the term "outrage" and implied that the Serbian government was not meeting its obligations under the Vienna Convention.

Serbia, which has fiercely opposed the independence of its province of Kosovo, is strongly supported within the council by Russia, which has sought unsuccessfully to have the United Nations declare Sunday's declaration illegal.

Kosovo has already been recognized by the United States and a number of European Union countries. (Reporting by Patrick Worsnip; editing by Mohammad Zargham)




 

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