The US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Friday claimed German support for a US plan for Iraq, which he said should be agreed by the UN Security Council next week. But France, Russia and China said they would fight for significant changes.
Powell's meeting with the German chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, in Berlin marked a slight thaw in US-German relations after deep differences emerged over Iraq.
Schroeder said it "makes no sense" to maintain sanctions on Iraq, a statement Powell seized on as support for a US proposal permanently lifting sanctions.
Powell said he was "pleased with the chancellor's commitment to lift the sanctions entirely."
He also said that a Security Council consensus should be possible "within the next several days."
However, the two men refused to take questions, making it difficult to determine how close they had come to an agreement on the resolution.
Washington, with support from London and Madrid, is sponsoring a Security Council draft resolution that would lift sanctions while transferring control of Iraq to the US-British coalition for a year.
Other Security Council members, including France, Russia, China and Germany, have objected to the draft because the UN would be relegated to a secondary, consultative role and because the fate of Iraq's oil revenues is put in coalition hands. The objectors want sanctions to be suspended until UN inspectors can verify that Iraq has no banned weapons.
Under the proposals Iraq's oil revenues would be placed in a development fund. The fund would be immune to lawsuits and foreign claims but that immunity would expire once a new Iraqi government was formed, a process that could take several years. This is of particular interest to Moscow and Paris, as Russian and French oil companies have US$12 billion in outstanding contracts with Iraq.