UNITED NATIONS (AP) – France, Russia and Germany urged the
United States yesterday to add a timetable for the transfer of
power to Iraqis to its new U.N. resolution, but Washington called
for a quick vote and a U.S. official cautioned against major
changes.

In an apparent effort to reach a compromise on the draft
Washington circulated Monday, the three countries dropped their
demand for a handover of sovereignty to an Iraqi provisional
government within months.

Instead, their proposed amendments to the U.S. draft would give
Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Security Council a role in
establishing the timetable, along with the U.S.-led Coalition
Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Governing Council.

The three countries submitted the amendments at the first
council meeting to discuss the revised resolution following a
meeting among French President Jacques Chirac, Russian President
Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, diplomats
said.

During yesterday’s closed-door discussion, diplomats said it was
clear that if the Bush administration accepted the amendments, the
United States would get the support of 14 of the 15 Security
Council members, with only Syria’s vote in doubt.

If the United States makes no changes, the resolution is likely
to get just the minimum nine “yes” votes needed for adoption, the
diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Many council members are concerned at the mixed message the
United Nations’ most powerful body would send if the resolution is
only approved by a slim margin, but no nation threatened a
veto.

Annan said he hopes the United States will work “to get as broad
support as possible because I have always maintained that the
council is at its best and has the greatest impact when it is
united.”

The United States wants speedy council action on the resolution,
which is co-sponsored by Britain, Spain and Cameroon.

“We have asked members of the Security Council to be ready to
vote from 3 p.m. EDT today on,” said Richard Grenell, spokesman for
U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte.

Washington has pressed for a vote ahead of a major donors’
conference for Iraq in Madrid, Spain, on Oct. 23-24, and the U.S.
draft urges the 191 U.N. member states to make “substantial
pledges.”

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was
highly doubtful Washington would agree to any major changes.

But State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the
resolution wasn’t a take-it-or-leave-it proposition.

Over the last four days, Secretary of State Colin Powell has
talked with the foreign ministers of more than half the council
nations, as well as with Annan.

“We think we are making good progress toward adoption of this
resolution,” Boucher said. If council members “have further changes
that support the resolution and its intent, it may be possible to
take some of those into account.”

The Germans, Russians, French and Chinese called the third
revision of the U.S. resolution an improvement over previous drafts
but said it still fell short.

“We appreciate the improvements introduced in the resolution
structurally and substance-wise, and we think that it is moving in
the right direction,” said Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Sergey Lavrov.
But “some of the elements, which are crucial … are not very clear
… and some of them are slightly ambiguous.”

The U.S. draft calls on the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional
Authority “to return governing responsibilities and authorities to
the people of Iraq as soon as practicable.”

The Russian-French-German amendments would call on the authority
“in consultation with the Governing Council and the
secretary-general, to develop a specific schedule for this purpose
and submit it to the council.”

The date for the submission was left blank and would be
determined by the resolution’s sponsors and the Security Council.
The three countries also want a date added for the Governing
Council to convene a constitutional conference.

The U.S. draft calls on the Governing Council to provide the
Security Council by Dec. 15, in cooperation with U.S. authorities,
with a timetable for drafting a new constitution and holding
democratic elections.

Another amendment proposed by the three countries urges the
Governing Council to submit the timetable to the Security Council
“for its consideration,” a move that would give the United Nations
a role in determining, for example, whether it should be speeded
up.

Bush’s main aim in seeking a new resolution is to get more
countries to contribute troops and money to stabilize and rebuild
Iraq. The resolution would authorize a multinational force _ sought
by some potential troop-contributing nations _ led by the United
States.

The latest draft would have the Security Council review “the
requirements and the mission of the multinational force” within a
year.

The Russian-French-German amendments would end the force’s
mandate “on the day the council receives a report from the
secretary-general that an internationally recognized,
representative government of Iraq was sworn in.”

 

 

 

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