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Last Updated: Friday, 3 October, 2003, 01:42 GMT 02:42 UK
UN divisions over US Iraq draft

Iraqi man and US soldier
Security in Iraq is a problem despite the US presence
The United States' draft resolution on the future of Iraq has drawn criticism from members of the United Nations Security Council.

France, Russia and Germany raised concerns that the draft did not meet their demands, particularly regarding a quick transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is also reported to have criticised the US proposals, saying it would be difficult to foresee a political role for the UN in Iraq under the terms of the new text.

He said the draft was "not going in the direction" he wanted, but that it was still being studied.

The United States is seeking UN backing for the resolution, which calls for a multinational force to supplement US-led troops in Iraq and funding for Iraq's reconstruction.

France has led calls for the rapid handover of governing power to Iraqis but the draft gives no firm timetable for the transfer of responsibility.

"The revised text does not address our wishes," France's UN ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said after the closed meeting of the Security Council on Thursday.

The US has said it wants to get a resolution passed before an international conference to raise money to help rebuild Iraq later this month.

'Progressive' transfer

The new draft does not set a deadline for relinquishing power to Iraqis but calls for a "progressive" transfer of authority.

US DRAFT'S KEY POINTS
Bigger UN role
Progressive handover of power to Iraqis
New constitution and elections
Multi-national force under unified command
Effective Iraqi police and security forces
Full range of loans for reconstruction

"We're very much in favour of transferring them as rapidly as we possibly can," said the US ambassador to the UN, John Negroponte.

He said the text called for the drafting of a new Iraq constitution before elections are held, after which "full governmental functions" could be handed over to Iraqis.

Mr Annan is said to have been particularly critical of the US vision of the occupying powers continuing to play a leading role, with the UN and the Governing Council following behind.

He is also said to have raised his concerns about the US insistence on a process in which an unelected body would draft a new constitution and elections would then follow.

Mr Annan has argued hard for a reversal of this sequence of events, with the UN overseeing a process under which any new Iraqi constitution is built on democratic foundations.

France, Russia and Germany have also pressed for an expanded role for the UN in Iraq, but the draft text falls short of their demands.

Bush praised

Mr de La Sabliere said the draft "leaves the United Nations in a secondary role", while Mr Negroponte said the text reflected awareness of the "vital role the UN can play in Iraq".

He said he was encouraged by an "emerging convergence" among the 15 council members.

France has said that despite its misgivings, it will not veto a resolution when it is put to a vote.

The Security Council is due to meet again on Monday for further discussions.

Meanwhile the current head of Iraq's Governing Council, Ahmad Chalabi, has praised US President George W Bush for his role in liberating his country during Iraq's address to the UN General Assembly.

"The Iraqis will never forget your courage and sacrifice on our behalf," he said.




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