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Europe

U.S., Britain Hopeful New Iraq Resolution Will Pass

The United States and Britain have introduced a new U.N. resolution to transfer power to an interim Iraqi government. But France has expressed reservations whether it would make Iraq "truly sovereign."

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The U.N. Security Council will now debate the draft

Hoping to pave the way for a transition to a new Iraqi-run authority on June 30, Washington and London submitted the draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council on Monday. The measure aims to bolster international support for the new government in Baghdad, but some governments are likely to take issue with wide latitude given to the U.S.-led forces in Iraq.

The resolution would allow American and British troops to operate almost indefinitely in the country and would let them "take all necessary measure to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq, including by preventing and deterring terrorism."

France and Germany, both strong opponents of the war, are likely to want a more definite timeframe for the withdrawal of the occupying troops or clearer language allowing the Iraqis more say in ordering their departure. French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Paris was concerned the interim government would not be "truly sovereign" if it did not have the backing of the Iraqi people.

"I think the transfer of power to the new Iraqi government from July 1 should be a complete, sincere and clear transfer, even if there is naturally, for a certain time, a sharing of responsibilities on security until the January elections," Barnier told journalists after the resolution was submitted.

A round-table discussion?

In an interview with the Le Figaro newspaper, he suggested holding a round-table meeting to "verify how representative" the authority would be. He said the new resolution must have a triple objective of returning sovereignty, "clearly marking" the authority of the United Nations and launching a political and economic reconstruction process in Iraq.

Other countries were more reserved in their assessment of the draft text. Germany's ambassador to the United Nation Gunter Pleuger said the draft resolution was "a good basis for discussion" and other members of the Security Council said they wanted to wait to hear from the U.N.'s representative in Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi.

Brahimi is expected to return to the United Nations by the end of the month to name a president and other cabinet members for the transitional government in Iraq.

In an attempt to get France and Germany behind the resolution, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw met with his French and German counterparts in Brussels on Monday. He said there had been plenty of negotiations before the draft was submitted with the aim of reaching a quick consensus.

"We have entered into the discussion with partners in the hope that we will be able to reach agreement and reach agreement pretty soon," he told journalists.

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