Britain wants another push for Iraq UN resolution
( 2003-10-09 14:04) (Agencies)
Britain is pushing for amendments to a U.S.-drafted resolution on Iraq that would make it more acceptable to U.N. Security Council members before the Bush administration considers dropping the measure entirely, diplomats said.
But whether the United States would agree to substantive changes is doubtful. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher on Wednesday told reporters not to expect any "radical departures" from the draft, repeating what U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte announced to the 15 council members on Monday.
Britain, a co-sponsor of the resolution, would consider accelerating Iraqi sovereignty, even before elections were held, without giving a specific time frame, diplomats said.
But it was unclear whether the British government would submit an amendment on this point.
The United States wants to continue the occupation, with duties transferred to Iraqis gradually, until a constitution is written and elections are held, which could take two years.
The draft was first proposed in August -- and slightly revised last month -- but the mood in the Security Council changed dramatically after U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week ruled out U.N. political participation unless U.S. authorities handed power to Iraqis within months.
After a two-hour Security Council debate on Monday, it was clear that the United States might not have the needed nine votes for the resolution to be adopted.
Alternatively, Washington might get just enough support for passage, but with enough defections to diminish the impact of the measure. France, Russia, Germany, China and Syria are not expected to support the measure.
The draft is aimed at broadening financial and military support as well as signaling that the occupation of Iraq is temporary. The only operational provision in the resolution is transferring the U.S.-led military to a multinational force, still under American leadership.
A State Department official said he was not optimistic that the measure could obtain enough support, even with more changes.
"The resolution looks pretty much dead," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
But State Department spokesman Richard Boucher made clear the United States was still trying to rescue the measure in comments to reporters in Washington on Wednesday.
"We could proceed or not proceed with the resolution. That's definitely one of the options," Boucher said.
"We want to get a resolution, if we can get a resolution that meets our criteria and that helps get international support for the process of political transition that is underway," he said.
Annan, siding with proposals from France and Germany, wants the United States to hand over sovereignty to the Iraqis within three to five months, similar to the transition in Afghanistan.
Twenty-two people were killed on Aug. 19 in an attack on U.N. headquarters in Iraq, and Annan told council members last week he did not want to risk more lives for a marginal political role as envisaged in the draft resolution, a senior U.N. official told reporters.
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