Fri, Jun 04, 2004 - Page 1 News List

UN resolution on Iraq troubles Russia and France

REUTERS , MOSCOW

US President George W. Bush delivers the commencement address at the Air Force Academy in Colorado on Wednesday.

PHOTO: AP

Russia echoed serious concerns held by France over a new UN resolution on Iraq, hours before Iraq's foreign minister was to plead his country's case for full sovereignty at the Security Council yesterday.

One of the main concerns among council members is that the revised draft does not spell out whether the Iraqi military can refuse an offensive action ordered by the US-led force of 130,000 troops.

The aim of the resolution is to get international endorsement for the formation of an interim Iraqi government and to authorize a US-led multinational force, which would be empowered to take "all necessary measures" to keep the peace.

France and Russia, veto-wielding members of the Security Council, say the draft is still too vague over what sovereignty means after occupation officially ends.

"Many of our concerns remain. Therefore the text needs serious work," Interfax quoted Yuri Fedotov, a deputy foreign minister, as saying.

"It is clear that in order for these forces to act effectively, they must be placed under joint command. As for the details, all this must be foreseen by the UN Security Council and confirmed in the corresponding resolution."

French President Jacques Chirac has said the resolution needed "to affirm and confirm the full sovereignty of the Iraqi government, particularly in the military domain."

But US Ambassador John Negroponte said it needed only "fine-tuning" and that he expected it to be adopted soon. No vote has been set but most envoys expected the resolution to pass, albeit not immediately and with changes.

Any resolution on Iraq needs the support of at least nine members of the 15-nation Security Council and no veto from the five permanent members -- Russia, France, China, Britain and the US.

China appeared to be taking a more conciliatory line yesterday, saying although it was still studying the draft, the amendments reflected its concerns.

But Algeria's UN ambassador and the council's only Arab delegate, Abdallah Baali, said: "We need to have clarity on the way the multinational force is going to operate in Iraq and we definitely think the Iraqi government should have an important say in all decisions regarding its operations."

Germany also says it sees room for improvement in the draft and has made some suggestions to the US.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said he intended to help shape the resolution when he addresses the 15-nation council at an open meeting yesterday afternoon.

"This is a very important resolution for us. And definitely we need to have our own input," he told reporters after arriving on Wednesday.

Zebari said he had received instructions from the newly named Iraqi leaders, who also concentrated on security concerns at their first Cabinet meeting in a US-protected zone.

The revised resolution touches on three phases of Iraqi rule: the interim government that takes office on June 30, an elected transitional government that is to be in power by January and a permanent government after approval of a constitution that is to take effect by 2006.

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