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Car bomb in Baghdad; US Iraq proposal criticized
( 2003-10-15 09:07) (Agencies)

A car bomb blew up near the Turkish embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday, while U.N. Security Council members grappled with a U.S. draft resolution to gain international support for stabilizing Iraq.

The driver of the car heading toward the heavily guarded Turkish embassy died and several bystanders were wounded in the apparent suicide attack, days after Ankara agreed to send troops to bolster U.S.-led forces occupying Iraq.

U.S. Army troops walk past a piece of a charred vehicle chassis after an explosion outside the Turkish embassy in Baghdad October 14, 2003.  [Reuters]
In New York, the Bush administration's attempts to get U.N. approval for U.S. operations to stabilize and rebuild Iraq ran into further resistance from Secretary-General Kofi Annan and key Security Council members.

Annan, whose stand on Iraq is critical for many member states, said publicly the U.S. resolution had made few significant changes to the previous proposal. But he said it had taken into account "some of my preoccupations."

France, Russia and Germany, supported by China, submitted several amendments urging the United States to include a date that would lead to a timetable for Iraqi self rule. But the United States wanted a quick vote and indicated it would not allow major changes.

The amendments, however, showed a willingness to compromise. France and Germany dropped earlier demands for a handover of sovereignty to an Iraqi provisional government within five months.

No vote was expected until late on Wednesday at the earliest.


A Kremlin statement described the situation in Iraq as "explosive" and said the new resolution must give the United Nations a bigger role in the country.

In Baghdad, a U.S. spokesman, Colonel Peter Mansoor, said a car was driven toward the entrance of the Turkish mission. It blew up, killing the driver and wounding several bystanders.

Local hospital staff said they had treated 10 wounded people, one with critical head injuries.

With a major donors' meeting on Iraq due to be held in Madrid next week, chief fund raiser Marek Belka said money was in place to fund the first year of rebuilding the country, largely from a proposed U.S. contribution of $20 billion.

"We will not lack money to roughly meet the initial needs for the next year, under one condition, additional financing from the U.S. budget (comes through as planned)," Belka, a former Polish finance minister, told Reuters in Warsaw.

At U.N. headquarters, Julia Taft, assistant administrator of the U.N. Development Program, said host Spain had estimated the 42 countries due to attend the Madrid meeting were expected to pledge $2 billion.

In Washington, a World Bank source said the bank could lend Iraq $3.4 billion to $4 billion in the next four years.

An angry crowd gathered near the Turkish embassy after the car bombing, chanting "With blood, with soul, we sacrifice for you, Saddam." Iraqi police scuffled with the protesters and fired in the air to disperse them.

Turkey's parliament agreed last week to send troops to join American and other foreign contingents trying to stabilize Iraq after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in April.


But many of the 25 members of Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council oppose the deployment and the spokesman for Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani said he would rethink his position on the council if it accepted the entry of Turkish troops.

Another council member, British-educated doctor Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, told Reuters Iraq would probably be ready to hold an election within two years. But he said it should not be pressured by U.S. preoccupation with its own interests.

The U.S. resolution, the third draft by Washington to date, calls on the Governing Council, in cooperation with the U.S.-led occupation, to provide by December 15 a timetable to draft a new constitution and "for the holding of democratic elections."

As in earlier versions, the resolution would transfer the existing military to a U.N.-approved multinational force -- still under U.S. leadership -- to give political cover to nations not wanting to join an occupation operation.

Rubaie said the December 15 deadline was a viable target for preparing a timetable for a constitution and elections.

U.N. chief Annan said that despite the wording of the resolution, the U.S.-led coalition remained the governing body.

He indicated he would send political staff to Iraq later but made clear safety was his first priority following the deadly August 19 bombing of U.N. offices in Baghdad that killed 22 people.

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