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Last Updated:  Monday, 7 April, 2003, 04:59 GMT 05:59 UK
Bush and Blair plan the peace

By Paul Reynolds
BBC News Online world affairs correspondent

In an echo of the wartime conferences between Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, Tony Blair and George Bush are meeting on Monday and Tuesday to plan the peace while prosecuting the war.

Tony Blair and George W Bush
The aim is to show war leaders as peace leaders
The venue is Belfast, which is unexpected. One suspects a pay-off for Tony Blair, who has more than post-war Iraq on his agenda.

He also wants President Bush to endorse a new political initiative in Northern Ireland, and a push for talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

The idea is to show the war leaders as peace makers.

The Americans and British have drawn up a three-stage procedure for post-war Iraq, though much of the detail remains to be filled in

The most immediate issue is obviously Iraq. The big problem is that there is no provisional government to take power, as there was in so many countries after the Second World War.

Despite some differences, the Americans and British have drawn up a three-stage procedure, though much of the detail remains to be filled in, especially about the role of the UN.

  • Stage one is a period in which the US and UK military will retain security control, while day-to-day life (utilities, infrastructure, medical care and so on) is run by the newly formed US Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Aid (ORHA). Nobody knows how long the troops will stay.

    ORHA is led by retired General Jay Garner, and there are plans to divide the country up into three areas.

    The Baath party senior leadership would be removed, but lower level officials would be recruited to stay on.

  • Stage two will see the formation of an Interim Iraqi Administration (IIA). It will have to be broad-based and include exiles.

    Those taking part will have to subscribe to Iraqi territorial unity and to democratic aims.

    It will not, however, have executive power but will have to work in liaison with ORHA and progressively take over various functions.

  • Stage three will be the move, through elections of some form, to a representative government which will take over control. No timeframe has been given.

    The US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said on Sunday that it will take longer than six months.

    "This is a complicated situation. It will take more than that," he said.

It is quite clear that the UN will not be running Iraq.

The US and UK hope to get the French, Russians and Germans on board

President Bush's National Security adviser Condoleezza Rice said that "after giving life and blood for liberating Iraq, the coalition expects to have the leading role."

Just where the UN fits in has not been agreed.

The role of the UN, Dr Rice says, has "yet to be determined."

Britain wants the UN to specifically support the move to representative government.

The British government in particular would like the UN to take the lead in organising a conference of Iraqis in Baghdad to approve the process.

It is also proposing a Security Council resolution wrapping this all up, and giving its blessing to at least the steps leading to representative government.

By bringing in the UN, the UK hopes to get the French, Russians and Germans on board.

One issue clouding the policy has been the suspicion about American motives

These countries opposed the war and do not want to legitimise any US or British occupation. But they might want to legitimise an Iraqi provisional government.

The United States talks more about the UN in a supportive humanitarian role.

One cloud over the policy has been the suspicion about American motives.

The Pentagon is in charge of OHRA and there have been reports that it wanted to set up the IIA, at least in the south, immediately.

It would reportedly have liked to give the lead role to Iraqi exiles in the Iraqi National Congress under the leadership of Ahmed Chalabi. He is close to the Pentagon and is now talking of US troops staying in Iraq for two years until elections are held. Some of his supporters are now being taken into southern Iraq.

The Washington Post noted the criticism of the way policy has evolved: "The concern begins with the secrecy that has surrounded the planning process."

Tony Blair will want to pin George Bush down and ensure that it is as open and orderly as possible, with UN backing at the appropriate time.

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