US rejects diluting Iraqi occupation authority
( 2003-09-11 16:12) (Agencies)
The United States rejected on Wednesday proposals by France and Germany to dilute the U.S. occupation administration in Iraq and speed up a transfer of authority to Iraqi politicians.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, in an interview with the Arabic television channel Al-Jazeera, ridiculed the idea that the United States could give Iraqis power "tomorrow."
"Suggestions that ... all we have to do is get up tomorrow morning and find an Iraqi who is passing by and give him the government (and) say, 'You're now in charge and Ambassador Bremer and the American Army are leaving,' that's not an acceptable solution," Powell said.
He was responding to proposed Franco-German amendments to a draft U.N. Security Council resolution written by the United States in an attempt to persuade other governments to contribute troops and cash to the occupation of Iraq.
The amendments would recognize an Iraqi transitional authority and dilute the role of the current U.S. occupation authorities in the political process. Paul Bremer, a U.S. official, is the head of the civilian administration in Iraq.
Powell said the United States naturally assumed responsibility for Iraq as the power that removed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein after invading in March.
"That's what happens at the end of a conflict when the old government has been removed. So the regime was changed and we assumed the responsibility for the country," he said.
He said he had also heard proposals that the United States hand responsibility for Iraq to the United Nations.
"To think that the U.N. could suddenly take this all over, to the exclusion of the Coalition Provisional Authority, is not realistic. It would not work," he added.
The provisional authority is dominated by the United States, working in conjunction with Iraqi politicians selected by Washington.
Powell was to travel to Geneva this weekend to discuss Iraq with the foreign ministers of the other permanent members of the Security Council -- Britain, France, Russia and China -- and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
The transcript of Powell's interview with Al-Jazeera was released by Al-Jazeera's office in Washington.
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