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Last Updated: Friday, 16 May, 2003, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
Russia spurns Iraq resolution
Engineers work around a bomb crater on the tarmac of Baghdad International Airport
The UN is given more of a role in the reconstruction of Iraq

Russia has called for major changes to be made to a new US-sponsored draft resolution envisaging the lifting of economic sanctions against Iraq.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov said China shared Moscow's concerns about the amended draft presented to the United Nations.

"We believe that parts of this draft resolution require serious alteration," he said after talks with his Chinese counterpart Yang Wenchang.

"In its present form, the draft resolution creates serious problems for our countries," he added.

Russia is anxious to secure UN involvement in Iraq to avoid losing billions of dollars owed by Baghdad and invested in Iraqi oil projects.

We think we've moved significantly
Richard Grenell
Spokesman for US Ambassador John Negroponte

Its position is broadly supported by China and France.

All three have veto powers in the UN Security Council and opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq.

In addition to calling for the lifting of UN sanctions , the draft resolution defines a highly influential role for the US and UK as occupying powers to determine how the profits from Iraqi oil sales should be spent.

The BBC's UN correspondent Greg Barrow says the new text goes some way to addressing Russia's concerns and strengthens the role of the UN in post-war Iraq - but only slightly.

Security Council split

No date has been set for discussion in the UN Security Council.

The US and Britain, which are jointly sponsoring the resolution with Spain, are believed to want a vote to be held next week.

Could total almost $400bn:
$199bn in Gulf War compensation claims
$127bn debt, including $47bn interest
$57bn owed for pending contracts - mostly to Russia

Source: US Center for Strategic and International Studies

But this may be resisted by other Council members who say negotiations on the wording have not even begun.

The new draft concedes that a UN special co-ordinator should now work "intensively" with the occupying powers in helping to restore and establish national and local institutions.

Diplomatic sources say one significant change has been made in relation to funds generated by Iraqi oil sales.

The new draft concedes that, once an internationally recognised government is established in Iraq, such funds could be open again to claims from nations or entities owed money as a result of contracts established before the war.

It also calls for oil revenues, now under UN control, to be put into a Development Fund for Iraq instead of the previously named Iraqi Assistance Fund.

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