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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 September, 2003, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
China baulks at US Iraq plan
Iraqi and US soldier
The US wants a multinational force for Iraq
China has said it will support proposals put forward by France, Germany and Russia to reduce the political role of the United States and Britain in Iraq.

It comes after the Europeans and Russia submitted amendments to a US draft resolution seeking a multinational force for Iraq.

The United States says the UN should play a role in preparing for a new Iraqi government but it seeks to keep political control in the hands of its Coalition Authority until elections are held.

The proposed amendments would give a much greater role to the UN and the Iraqi Governing Council and speed up the path to elections.

On Wednesday, US President George W Bush called on the Security Council to act quickly and approve a new resolution on Iraq.

Price to pay

China has again aligned itself with the countries which led the opposition to a US attack on Iraq before the war in March.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said: "As to the proposals of the French, Russia and German parties, we support them."

The separate Franco-German and Russian amendments broadly support America's plea for a multinational force to help strengthen security in Iraq.

As the price of their acceptance, the French and Germans say the UN should "immediately" take the lead in paving the way to "full restoration of Iraqi sovereignty".

Russia calls for the UN "to strengthen its role in Iraq" and for a timetable to be drawn up leading to elections.

'Incompatible' positions

The BBC's world affairs correspondent, Paul Reynolds, says that it will be hard though not impossible to reconcile the positions. The US and Britain also want the Governing Council to play a key role in writing a constitution and setting the date for elections.

What is at stake, he says, is who controls what in the meantime.

The initial American reaction, from Secretary of State Colin Powell, was sceptical.

He said that "suggestions that we... find a passing Iraqi and give him the government and say that the Americans are leaving - that's not an acceptable solution".

The draft resolution will be discussed by the five permanent members of the Security Council with the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in Geneva on Saturday.

The BBC's Matt Prodger
"Kofi Annan is like the anxious host at a difficult dinner party"

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