- The Washington Times - Monday, June 7, 2004

U.N. diplomats yesterday pushed to complete the Security Council resolution overseeing America’s transfer of sovereignty to Iraq, aiming for a vote this afternoon with growing hopes for a strong vote of support.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said he thinks an agreement would be reached quickly, ending days of disputes among the United States, Britain, Iraq, France, Germany and Russia.

“I think we will all work out our differences in the course of the afternoon,” said Mr. Powell, while attending an Organization of American States meeting in Ecuador.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John D. Negroponte, tapped to be the first U.S. ambassador to the new Iraqi government, confirmed last night that the United States and Britain will call for a vote today, adding that he thought it would pass.

France and Germany, which has criticized earlier drafts of the resolution, signaled that they were strongly leaning toward supporting the new version.

Gunter Pleuger, Germany’s ambassador to the United Nations, said the resolution had been altered enough that Berlin, which fiercely opposed the war, could support it.

His French counterpart, Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, said, “There are a lot of improvements,” but added he was waiting for instructions from his government.

U.N. approval of the resolution will grant a necessary degree of legitimacy to the June 30 transfer of power, as well as clarify the relationship between U.S.-led forces and the new Iraqi government.

A revised text of the resolution — taking into account Iraqi, French, Russian and German concerns over the status of the multinational forces — was to be circulated among Security Council members.

Germany and France had insisted on an amendment that would allow the new Iraqi interim government to veto U.S.-led military operations, but German diplomats say they are satisfied with the text.

This weekend, Mr. Powell and Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi exchanged letters outlining how U.S.-led forces and the new government will coordinate and cooperate on combat operations — such as the bloody showdown in Fallujah in April.

A British U.N. official yesterday afternoon said the final revision did not so much concern the French and German amendment.

“It’s a question of how you refer to the letters exchanged between Mr. Allawi and Mr. Powell and how those are referred to in the resolution,” he said.

The draft resolution debated yesterday by the 15 Security Council members said the multinational force would have the authority to take “all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq in accordance with the letters.”

In his letter, Mr. Powell said the United States would work in partnership with Iraq “to reach agreement on the full range of fundamental security and policy issues, including policy on sensitive offensive operations.”

Reciprocally, Mr. Allawi said in his letter that the new Iraqi government would work in “full partnership” with the U.S.-dominated troops through a new security structure: a Ministerial Committee for National Security.

“Since these are sensitive issues for a number of sovereign governments, including Iraq and the United States, they need to be resolved in the framework of a mutual understanding on our strategic partnership,” he said.

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