U.S., Britain revise Iraq resolution

U.S., Britain revise Iraq resolution to give new interim government authority to order multinational force to leave
By Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press, 6/4/2004 18:13

U.S., Britain revise Iraq resolution to give new interim government authority to order multinational force to leave
By Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press, 6/4/2004 18:13

UNITED NATIONS (AP) The United States and Britain revised their plan Friday for Iraq’s interim government that will take power on June 30, giving it authority to order the U.S.-led multinational force to leave the country at any time.

The latest draft resolution the third in less than two weeks also spelled out limits on the new government’s activities, barring it from taking ”any actions affecting Iraq’s destiny” beyond the seven months it will be in power.

While the new draft addressed some concerns raised by Iraq and Security Council members, it didn’t address the relationship between the new interim government and the multinational force.

Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari had asked the council to detail this relationship. The Iraqis want a partnership with the force and to be consulted on major military operations that have political implications such as the bloody, three-week Marine siege of Fallujah, a Sunni insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad.

Zebari also urged the council on Thursday ”to endorse and acknowledge” the interim constitution, which is serving as the legal basis for the country until a new charter is completed next year. But the interim constitution, known as the Transitional Administrative Law, is not mentioned in the latest draft.

The previous U.S.-British draft, introduced Tuesday, declared the council’s readiness to end the multinational force’s mandate by January 2006, or at the request of the government that will be formed after elections, which must be held by Jan. 31, 2005. But it did not give the interim government that will take power later this month any authority over the force.

Zebari told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that the incoming government wants the multinational force to stay to prevent civil war. On Friday, he told The Associated Press that he could not foresee its departure before power is transferred to the transitional government early next year.

The Iraqi minister also stressed that the new government doesn’t want ”a fixed deadline or timetable” for the departure of the force, but it does want whatever Iraqi government is in power to have the authority to decide when it should leave.

The latest draft, which was circulated to Security Council members, formally states what British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Secretary of State Colin Powell have said publicly that if asked, their troops would leave.

It declares that the council will terminate the mandate for the multinational force after further elections by Dec. 31, 2005 under a new constitution that will be drafted next year, or earlier ”if requested by the sovereign government of Iraq.”

The resolution asks the 191 U.N. member states and regional organizations to contribute troops to the multinational force.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told Abu Dhabi television Thursday that despite discussions, the United States has not received any new troop commitments.

Once a resolution is approved, he said, he would go to NATO headquarters in Brussels to try to get the alliance to participate, by possibly providing a ”headquarters element or something like that.” Currently, 16 NATO members contribute troops individually to the multinational force.

Zebari told the Security Council that the interim government wants ”a new and unambiguous resolution that will ensure the transfer of full power and sovereignty and put an end to the occupation.”

The latest draft states more clearly that the U.S. and British occupation of Iraq will end by June 30, that the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority which has run the country ”will cease to exist, and that full sovereignty will have been restored to Iraq.”

U.S. and British diplomats said they are waiting for an exchange of letters on the relationship between the interim government and the multinational force. Once the letters have been received, the resolution will be revised again, one diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In an apparent response to Russian concerns, the latest draft for the first time addresses the future of U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq, which were halted just before the U.S.-led war that toppled Saddam Hussein. After the war, the United States barred U.N. inspectors from returning and deployed its own teams to search for weapons of mass destruction so far unsuccessfully.

The new draft states that the Security Council still intends to re-examine the mandates of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, which is charged with overseeing the elimination of Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons programs, and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is responsible for eliminating any nuclear programs. It did not give a date.

Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Alexander Konuzin, said Thursday the resolution should say who will be responsible for searching for alleged weapons stores and for maintaining any uncovered by U.N. monitors before the war.
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