Mon, Jun 07, 2004 - Page 7 News List

UN Security Council ponders letters from Iraq's new leader

REUTERS , UNITED NATIONS

The 15-nation UN Security Council was called into a special session yesterday to analyze letters from Baghdad's new leader and the US command on military operations, diplomats said.

The US, after three revisions on a resolution on Iraq's future, may also present what it hopes will be a final draft. Security Council ambassadors went on a retreat on Saturday to discuss the resolution.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said he expected a breakthrough after Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi sent a letter to the UN on Saturday.

The letter is to set down how the military operation can be subject to a review, should the US want to engage in a major operation that Iraq's new leaders do not like.

Iraq has already said it did not want a veto over US military actions, and Powell has said there was no chance they would get one. But Iraqi officials have made clear they want a say in any large campaign by the US-led multinational force, as they believe their influence can prevent unnecessary bloodshed, like that in Fallujah.

No vote has been scheduled and none was expected yesterday or today, although the US and Britain, sponsors of the resolution, would like one in the coming week.

Members wanted to hear first from Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN envoy who helped form the interim government that is to stay in office until elections for a transitional government, expected by January 2005. Brahimi briefs the council on Monday.

The resolution would give international endorsement to an Iraqi interim government that takes office on June 30 and authorize a US-led multinational force to use "all necessary means" to keep the peace.

The presence of 160,000 foreign soldiers has given several Security Council members second thoughts, apprehensive they would be endorsing an occupation under another name.

Russia, in particular, has hesitated in backing the resolution, saying the council should hear from Arab nations first and not carry the burden alone in approving the new government.

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