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Bush seeks UN backing for Iraq multinational force
( 2003-09-03 09:23) (Agencies)

President Bush on Tuesday directed Secretary of State Colin Powell to open negotiations at the U.N. Security Council on a resolution aimed at getting wider international support for U.S. efforts in Iraq, a senior U.S. official said.

A U.S. army soldier stands guard at a police complex in Baghdad as smoke rises in the background following a bomb attack, Sept 2, 2003.    [Reuters]
In an afternoon meeting, Bush and Powell discussed ways to convince the council to provide backing for a multinational force under a single command as recommended by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the official said.

"Secretary Powell is going to be working with our colleagues on the Security Council to talk about language that can bring the maximum international resources to bear on the issues in Iraq," the official said.

The United States, whose forces have occupied Iraq since invading the country in March and toppling President Saddam Hussein, has insisted it retain authority over Iraq operations.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, in an interview last week, said a concept under consideration was a multinational force under the sponsorship of the United Nations, but "the American would be the U.N. commander."

Daily guerrilla attacks on American troops and increasing concern at home about the chaotic security situation in Iraq have prompted Bush to press for more international support and to mend rifts at the United Nations with states that opposed the U.S. invasion.

Without a new U.N. resolution, help from other countries for the 150,000-strong U.S. military looks doubtful. About 21,000 non-American troops are in Iraq, 11,000 of them British.


The U.S. official said the draft resolution being proposed embraced a number of areas, including political, economic, military and security.

"It addresses security within the framework that Secretary- General Annan has talked about, which is a multinational force under a unified command," the official said.

"This isn't about us or the French or the Russians. This is to try to do the best the international community can do for the Iraqi people," the official added.

A State Department official in Washington said, "We've got language (of a draft UN resolution). It enhances, it elaborates, it talks about how countries can contribute."

The official added, "It's on how to define further the vital role of the U.N. in political, military and economic areas and how to provide ways for the U.N. members to support efforts by the Iraqi people."

Other U.S. sources said the resolution text was not expected to be distributed to the full 15-member Security Council until late this week or next week, although close U.S. ally Britain had received a copy of the text.

Diplomats at the United Nations said there would be private discussions on the ideas with the other permanent U.N. Security Council members -- France, Russia and China -- before any draft text would be distributed to the full council.

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