Fri, Oct 03, 2003 - Page 1 News List

US touches up its draft of UN resolution on Iraq


Trying to win over skeptics, the George W. Bush administration revised a UN resolution that emphasizes an eventual transfer of power to Iraqis but still leaves the US-led coalition in firm control.

The new draft, obtained by reporters on Wednesday, gives the UN a list of duties, similar to earlier versions. But it falls short of demands by France, Russia, Germany and others that the world body play a pivotal, independent role in overseeing the country's transition.

Diplomats expect considerable suggestions for changes before the measure is adopted by the 15-member Security Council.

At minimum, they say, the draft should set a date for when a plan leading to Iraqi sovereignty could be submitted.

The main purpose of the new resolution, as before, is to transform the military operation into a UN-authorized multinational force under American command.

This provision is aimed at attracting more contributions from nations wary of sending soldiers as part of an occupation force.

The 25-member Iraqi Governing Council, appointed by the US, would provide a timetable and program for drafting a new constitution and for elections, in cooperation with the occupation authorities and the UN.

The UN would help, if asked by Iraqi leaders, to establish an electoral process along with "advancing efforts to restore and establish national and local institutions for representative government," the draft says.

To meet some objections, the text speaks of the "temporary nature" of the US-led occupation "until an internationally recognized, representative government is established."

It says that the administration of Iraq will be "progressively undertaken by the evolving structures of the Iraqi interim administration.

"The day when Iraqis govern themselves must come quickly," the preamble of the draft says.

US Ambassador John Negroponte, this month's Security Council president, hopes the resolution can be adopted before a donors conference in Madrid on Oct. 23 and Oct. 24 . No council member has threatened to veto the measure but France and others said they might abstain.

The measure was circulated as UN sources said some US$35 billion in contributions from governments and Iraq's own resources would be needed to rebuild Iraq over the next four years. The figure is based on an assessment by the World Bank, the IMF and the UN in anticipation of the Madrid meeting.

Negroponte presented the draft on Wednesday to the other four permanent council members with veto power -- France, Russia, China and Britain. Germany also received a copy.

France has advocated some immediate gesture of sovereignty while Russia wanted the UN set a timetable and guide Iraqi leaders to free elections.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan prefers a plan to turn over power to a provisional Iraqi government within three to five months, UN officials said.

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