China: Foreign troops should leave Iraq before Jan 2005
China proposed Thursday major amendments to the US-British draft resolution on Iraq, calling for a time limit on the stay of the US-led multinational force as well as a say by Iraqis on its operation after power is transferred to a new Iraqi Government on June 30.
In a three-page paper, China said that the multinational force's mandate should expire in January 2005 in keeping with the timetable of Iraqi political process, and its extension should have the consent of the new Iraqi Government and be decided by the United Nations (UN) Security Council.
The paper, circulated before closed-door consultations of the 15-nation council, also calls for the establishment of a consultation mechanism between the force, mainly composed of American troops, and the Iraqi interim government on its military actions except for self-defence.
"The interim government of Iraq shall have its say on the security matter with responsibility to control the Iraqi army and police force," the paper says.
The United States and Britain introduced a draft measure on Iraq on Monday, seeking the Security Council's endorsement for the Iraqi power transfer and its authorization of the continued stay of the multinational force in Iraq after June 30.
But the text does not give a timetable for the withdrawal of the force. It only stipulates that the force's mandate would be reviewed one year later or at the request of Iraqis.
Likewise, the draft does not mention whether the new Iraqi Government would have full control of its army, and have a say on the multinational force's actions.
Besides security, China's paper also covers Iraq's political process, justice and humanitarian law, economic reconstruction, and the role of the UN.
It says that the Iraqi interim government shall exercise full sovereignty in the political, economic, security, judicial and diplomatic areas, including having the power to control and dispose of all natural and economic resources, sign economic co-operation agreements and contracts, and enjoy judicial independence and the power to administer prisons in Iraq.
The US-British draft does not specify whether the Iraqi Government would have the right to sign economic contracts with foreign countries, nor does it say whether Iraq's prisons, notorious for abuses by US troops, would be turned over to Iraqis.
Under China's proposals, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan would consider arranging investigations on the reported violations of international humanitarian laws in Iraq.
After the council consultations, the French Ambassador to the UN, Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, told reporters that China's proposals were supported by many council members, including France.
Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya said the co-sponsors of the Iraqi resolution have agreed to consider China's proposals.
The council is going to meet at the experts' level on the US-British draft Friday.
It needs nine "Yes" votes to be adopted, without vetoes by China, Russia, France, the United States and Britain, the five permanent council members.