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Last Updated: Friday, 4 June, 2004, 01:03 GMT 02:03 UK
Handover plans get Iraq backing
Hoshyar Zebari speaking at UN
Zebari said Iraq wanted a say in the future presence of US-led forces
The Iraqi foreign minister has given his broad endorsement to a UN draft resolution on the transfer of power to his government at the end of the month.

In a speech to the UN Security Council, Hoshyar Zebari stressed the need to give Iraq full sovereignty.

But he made it clear he believed the resolution, put forward by the US and Britain, did just that.

He also said the new Iraq government should have a say in the future presence of US-led forces on its soil.

It is not clear if the Iraqis and Americans have reached agreement on the crucial question of command and control, said a BBC correspondent in New York.

Some members of the Security Council, including France, Germany and Russia, want that point resolved before they support the resolution.

'Clear departure'

Mr Zebari said Iraq should have complete control of its own resources and assets as of 30 June.

Maps out the handover to a sovereign Iraqi government by 30 June
Provides for a US-led multinational force, with authority to take all necessary measures for security, while setting a date for the end of its mandate
Grants Iraq full control over its own natural resources while temporarily maintaining international control over its oil revenue fund

"The current draft regarding the nature of the sovereignty, and the terms of reference of the government etc, is quite adequate," Mr Zebari said.

He added the transition process was "reasonably legitimate and decent", and while it was not perfect it was the best outcome that could be expected in the current circumstances.

He said that Iraq's views needed to be heard by all.

"We seek an unambiguous resolution that underlines the transfer of full sovereignty, and must mark a clear departure from previous resolutions that legitimise the occupation," he said.

At the same time the premature departure of coalition forces would lead to chaos and civil war, he said.

Diplomats have welcomed the draft resolution, but a number of countries say that there is still serious work to do on it.

Speaking in the debate, Germany's ambassador described the draft as an "honest attempt" but said there was still room for improvement.

And France said the credibility of the new authorities depended on whether they were able to govern completely and with full independence.

Shia approval

The draft gives a US-led multinational force authority to take all necessary measures for security, but envisages a date for the end of its mandate when a fully elected Iraqi government is in place in January 2006.

30 June: Handover from Coalition Provisional Authority to interim government
End of Jan 2005: Elections to National Assembly
Autumn 2005: New constitution voted on in referendum
December 2005: Full elections for new government
January 2006: Directly elected government takes office

BBC News Online world affairs correspondent Paul Reynolds says this is being widely interpreted as meaning that the force would withdraw then, but it would be open to the elected government to ask some of the force to stay.

Earlier, Iraq's most influential Shia Muslim cleric urged the newly chosen Iraqi government to press the Security Council for full sovereignty.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani gave his cautious approval to the caretaker government but called on it to prove its efficiency.

The cleric wields enormous influence over Iraq's 60% Shia majority and correspondents say his approval is necessary to give the interim government legitimacy.

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