The United States failed to get backing from its allies yesterday to impose new sanctions on Yugoslavia as a way to end violence against Kosovo's ethnic Albanians.
But foreign ministers at the six-nation conference issued a statement insisting on "an urgent start ... to the process of unconditional dialogue with the leader of the Kosovar Albanian community.
"We expect [Yugoslav] President [Slobodan] Milosevic to implement the process of unconditional dialogue and take political responsibility for ensuring that Belgrade engages in serious negotiation on Kosovo's status," the statement said.
The six nations, which oversee the Balkans, agreed to meet again in four weeks "to reassess the situation."
"If Belgrade ... dialogue does not get under way within the next four weeks because of the position of the FRY [Former Republic of Yugoslavia] or Serbian authorities, we shall take steps to apply further measures," the statement said.
This referred to a threat leveled at a meeting in London earlier this month to freeze Yugoslavia's oversees assets, US diplomats said.
Clashing positions at the meeting to discuss the province's future underlined the Clinton administration's difficulty in persuading its allies to put the squeeze on Milosevic.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright opened the one-day conference with a call for additional sanctions on Yugoslavia to pressure it into talks with the ethnic Albanians, European diplomats said.
But Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov dissented, saying no new punitive measures were needed, according to the accounts.
Fresh violence in Kosovo on Tuesday added urgency to the foreign ministers' talks, in which Ms. Albright also sought support from Italy, France, and Germany for a tougher line.
Only Britain appears to fully support the US goal of an arms embargo - which requires UN Security Council approval - and a freeze of Yugoslav assets abroad.
Albright urged continued pressure on Milosevic.
"We have too much experience in the former Yugoslavia to settle for half-sincere half measures," she said Tuesday.