France and Germany appear ready to approve a U.N. resolution on the transfer of power in Iraq on Tuesday, following last-minute changes to the draft by the U.S. and Great Britain.
Last minute changes to the U.N. resolution might have done the trick
France, one of five permanent Security Council members with veto power, said Tuesday morning that it will vote in favor of the U.S.-British resolution.
"We find many of our ideas in this text," Foreign Minister Michel Barnier told French radio.
Though Russia and China, the remaining permanent members, have yet to voice full support for the draft, diplomats expected the resolution to pass without a hitch on Tuesday. The news came after a last-minute compromise on the structure of the security partnership between coalition forces and the new Iraqi government that takes power June 30.
France and Germany wanted the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi to have veto power over military operations conducted by the multinational force commanded by the U.S. In the new draft, the government "has authority to commit Iraqi security forces to the multinational force" and new security institutions will be employed to reach agreement on military operations, according to the Associated Press.
"I think we have reached a stage where the resoultion has a very good text," said Gunter Pleuger, Germany's U.N. Ambassador. "My feeling is we have found a compromise."
Coming more than a year after the war began to oust Saddam Hussein, the draft -- the fourth in two weeks -- marks the final piece in the quest to restore democracy and hand over power to the Iraqi people by June 30. It is also the result of weeks of intense back-and-forth negotiations as in particular France and Germany -- which holds a rotating seat on the 15-member Security Council -- held out against approving earlier drafts which in their opinion did not go far enough to ensuring Iraqi sovereignty in matters of security.
France's U.N. ambassador, Jean-Marc de la Sabliere had sought changes that would require the U.S.-led forces to seek approval from the Iraqi interim government for "sensitive offensive operations" after June 30.
Washington's U.N. Ambassador John Negroponte played down suggestions council members were asking for Iraq to have veto power over military action, something Washington has repeatedly refused to accept. "Veto is not really an appropriate term," he said. "But will these things be coordinated, will we work hard to ensure the greatest possible harmony on these issues? Yes," he said.
In letters to the Security Council, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Prime Minister Allawi pledged that Baghdad and the multinational force would cooperate on any military action. Neither referred to veto powers.
Pledges of military cooperation
In his letter, Powell said that the U.S.-led multinational force (MNF) would continue "activities necessary to counter ongoing security threats posed by forces seeking to influence Iraq's political future through violence."
He pledged that the MNF would work with Allawi's government to "reach agreement on the full range of fundamental security and policy issues, including policy on sensitive offensive operations."
Allawi, speaking for the interim government, said that Iraq would establish a national security committee and invite MNF commanders to "attend and participate."
Iraqi men watch Iraq's new prime minister, Iyad Allawi, in his first televised address to the nation since his appointment. Allawi told the nation on June 4 that the presence of American and other foreign troops would guarantee Iraqi security after the nation regains its sovereignty on June 30.
"Until we are able to provide security for ourselves, including the defense of Iraq's land, sea and air space, we ask for the support of the Security Council and the international community in this endeavor," the prime minister wrote.
"Since these are sensitive issues for a number of sovereign governments, including Iraq and the United States, they need to be resolved in the framework of a mutual understanding on our strategic partnership," he said, but stopped short of calling for veto powers.
A deal on Tuesday?
Russia, a permanent member with veto powers like France, said the draft was not quite a done deal. Even though "intensive diplomatic negotiations" on Sunday had produced "positive results", Deputy Foreign Minister Juri Fedotow was quoted by Interfax wire service as saying several points still needed to be addressed before the resolution could be approved. Without elaborating on the details, he said discussions would continue on Monday and he hoped Russia's position would be incorporated in the final draft.
"We're confident that it does the trick," said British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, whose country co-sponsored the draft. "It presents the model in the way we always expected, a partnership on security issues and full sovereignty for the government of Iraq."