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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 May, 2003, 01:50 GMT 02:50 UK
War critics back US Iraq plans
UN Security Council in session (archive)
Diplomats say the resolution is certain to pass
France, Germany and Russia have announced they will vote for a US resolution to end United Nations sanctions on Iraq.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said the three countries wanted the proposals to go further, but would still back them.

The resolution, co-sponsored by the UK and Spain, envisages the US-led coalition running Iraq until a recognised government takes over in Baghdad.

A vote scheduled for Thursday is now almost certain to be in favour, correspondents say.

Britain welcomed the decision to support the resolution, with Foreign Secretary Jack Straw saying that he now looked forward "to a very substantial vote in favour of the resolution and no vetoes".

RESOLUTION KEY POINTS
US and UK to maintain most of the power
Occupying forces to remain till new government formed
Situation to be reviewed within a year
UN to appoint special representative to help form new government
Sanctions to be lifted, though arms embargo will stay
Russian and French companies will be able to complete lucrative contracts
Return of UN weapons inspectors to be considered
$1bn Iraq Development Fund to be launched

Mr Straw said the resolution "provides a very good base for reconstruction, humanitarian relief and the building of good governance in Iraq".

At least 14 of the 15 Council members are expected to vote to adopt the resolution, with only the position of Syria - the sole Arab state represented - remaining unclear.

The BBC's Susannah Price at the UN says that it was the war with Iraq that split the Security Council, but it is the country's future that may heal the rift and that after nearly two weeks of wrangling over the resolution the diplomats are clearly relieved.

Our correspondent says the resolution will give more legitimacy to the occupying forces of the coalition.

Separately, Britain's ambassador to the UN has told the BBC there will be a role for international weapons inspectors in Iraq.

Sir Jeremy Greenstock said the specific role of the UN inspectors was not covered in the draft resolution but he added that their mandate would be reviewed in the next few weeks.

'Change of heart'

The US is also proposing to ask UN inspectors to examine the Tuwaitha nuclear plant along with its own experts.

The BBC's Jon Leyne says the plan marks a big change of heart among the Americans.

The US had been reluctant to allow the return of UN inspectors to look for the alleged banned weapons which were the main reason for launching the war.

Even if this text does not go as far as we would like we have decided to vote for this resolution
Dominique de Villepin,
French Foreign Minister

Its own teams in Iraq have found no proof of a chemical, biological or nuclear arsenal.

Our correspondent says Tuwaitha is of immediate concern because it was used to store several tonnes of uranium.

Although the uranium is not of high enough quality to make nuclear bombs, there is a fear that it could be looted and endanger local people.

Compromise

France, Germany and Russia strongly opposed the US-led war and have since insisted that the UN play a "central role" in Iraq after the conflict.

Mr de Villepin said the US, Britain and Spain had "listened to their partners" and the latest draft was the "result of a compromise".

"Even if this text does not go as far as we would like we have decided to vote for this resolution," he said.

Mr de Villepin and his counterparts - Russia's Igor Ivanov and Germany's Joschka Fischer - discussed the latest version of the draft with French President Jacques Chirac in Paris on Wednesday.

IAEA weapons inspectors visit the Tuwaitha nuclear site before the US-led invasion
A future role for UN weapons inspectors will be discussed
Richard Grenell, spokesman for the US Ambassador to the UN John Negroponte, said more than 90 changes had been made to the original 9 May draft introduced to respond to concerns of other council members.

The US said after a four-hour debate in the Security Council that the fourth draft would be the final one.

Mr Negroponte said a "number of technical questions plus some changes that the co-sponsors are willing to consider" were dealt with.

The resolution was virtually certain to get 12 "yes" votes in the 15-member Security Council, diplomats there said.

It would lift sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait and make the US and Britain the central authority in the country.

It also envisages a political role for a UN special representative in Iraq who, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has said, will be appointed soon after a resolution is passed.

The new draft now says the UN envoy will work with the occupying powers and Iraqi people to establish a new government.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Susannah Price
"The war in Iraq split the Security Council - plans for its future may heal the rift"



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