A revised draft for a UN resolution on Iraq's future proposed by the U.S. and Britain would set a departure date for foreign troops, but some Security Council members said more changes are still needed.
Bush has some convincing to do
Representatives from Germany, France and Russia expressed continuing concern about the proposal during a closed meeting late Tuesday, according to diplomats. They said the new resolution still doesn't address the question of complete sovereignty of the new interim Iraqi government that is scheduled to take over on June 30.
China's UN ambassador, Wang Guangya, also said his country expected the mandate for U.S.-led coalition troops to expire when a new Iraqi transitional government is elected in January 2005.
The new resolution states that the mandate would be terminated "if requested by the elected transitional government of Iraq." Unless that happens, the mandate "shall expire upon the completion of the political process," i.e. the election of a permanent government under a new constitution by late 2005 or early 2006.
France not satisfied
France, like China a permanent member of the security council with veto powers, also called for greater involvement of Iraqis when deciding on future military action in the country. "We're not satisfied with the new resolution," a French diplomat was quoted in news reports.
Unlike France and China, Germany, which currently holds a rotating seat on the council but has no veto power, has not called for a specific withdrawal date. In a telephone interview with U.S. President George W. Bush on Monday, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder said he was hopeful a compromise could be reached.
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Friedbert Pflüger, a foreign affairs expert for the oppositition Christian Democrats, welcomed the revised draft resolution. "It's progress that the Americans and the British have set a withdrawal date for the first time," Pflüger said in an interview with public broadcaster DeutschlandRadio. He added that the new resolution "by and large" took into consideration earlier justified concerns by France and Germany.
Will Iraqis have a say in military actions?
But Karsten Voigt, the German government's commissioner for U.S.-German relations, said the rights of Iraqis would still have to be strengthened. It also remains unclear whether Iraqis will have a say in future military actions by coalition troops, Voigt added.
"It's obvious that the Americans and their allies will not be able to ask the Iraqis every time," Voigt told Berliner Zeitung. "The question remains whether they will consult them ahead of larger operations and whether coalition troops can only act if the Iraqis say 'yes'."
The new draft resolution states that the Security Council welcomes Iraqi efforts to develop security forces, "which will progressively play a greater role and ultimately assume responsibility for the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq."
Voigt also acknowledged that a complete withdrawal by coalition forces would not be possible any time soon. "The presence of U.S. forces will be required for the time being," he said, adding that the United States bore responsibility to bring political stability, democracy and human rights to Iraq after starting the war.