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Revised Iraq Resolution Falls Short of European Expectations

Washington has amended its Iraq resolution to underscore an eventual transfer of power to Iraqis and a broader role for the U.N. But France and Germany say it doesn't go far enough.


U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Negroponte will need to apply some strong persuasion tactics

Faced with an increasingly mistrustful international community as it seeks to garner further support for the rising cost of keeping the peace in Iraq, the Bush administration on Wednesday further fine-tuned a U.N. draft resolution on Iraq.

The revamped version attempts to meet key objections raised by France, Germany, Russia and others, in particular regarding a broader U.N. mandate and in setting up sovereign rule in Iraq.

The U.N. Security Council will debate the new resolution behind closed doors on Thursday, in a meeting chaired by U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte, this month’s Security Council president. The U.S. has handed over copies of the revised resolution to permanent members of the Security Council. Germany, which is not a permanent member, has also received a copy.

Revamped draft tries to sway doubters

The new draft resolution still leaves the U.S.-led coalition in firm control of Iraq, but gives the United Nations a list of duties and calls for the step-by-step handover of power back to the Iraqis. Its main aim, as in the earlier resolution, is to transform the military operation into a U.N.-authorized multinational force under American command and thus hope to sway countries still wary of sending peacekeeping forces.

The draft speaks of the "temporary nature" of the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq "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."

Referring to the U.N. role, the draft says the United Nations 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."

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said the new resolution should help convince countries such as Turkey, Bangladesh, South Korea or Pakistan to deploy their own peacekeeping troops in Iraq.

Resolution doesn't concede much

However the common view in diplomatic circles is that the new resolution still falls way short of key demands made by the larger international community especially with regard to a pivotal, independent role of the U.N. in overseeing Iraq’s transition.

The document also fails to lay out a specific timeframe for the handing over of power to the Iraqis, a demand that France, in particular, has repeatedly expressed. Russia, too, wants the U.N. to set a timetable and guide Iraqi leaders to free elections. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Anan is said to be in favor of a plan to grant power to a provisional Iraqi government within three to five months.

Though none of the five veto-wielding members at the U.N. Security Council have made any comments on the new resolution or threatened to veto the measure, France has indicated it won’t let the document fall through.

However, few expect the resolution to be passed in the present form and a further round of lengthy negotiations looks certain before the fate of the resolution is decided.

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