- The Washington Times - Friday, August 22, 2003

NEW YORK — U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said yesterday that Washington will have to cede some authority if it expects other nations to join its coalition in Iraq.

“I think most member states … would want to see further internationalization through broadening of a U.N. role to permit them to join the operations on the ground,” Mr. Annan told reporters yesterday after a brief meeting with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

“It would also imply not just burden-sharing, but also sharing decision and responsibility with the others,” he added.

“If that doesn’t happen, I think it is going to be very difficult to get a second resolution that will satisfy everybody.”

The United States and Britain have been discussing a second resolution with other council members since Thursday, when Secretary of State Colin L. Powell acknowledged that the United States is seeking to expand the U.S.-dominated occupation authority. But the new multinational force, he stressed, would be under the coalition’s control.

But France has openly scoffed at the notion of contributing troops to a U.S. command.

Foreign Minister Dominque de Villepin criticized Washington for having a “logic of confrontation” in yesterday’s Le Monde and said Paris “can’t make do with adjusting or enlarging the current plan.”

In a meeting Thursday, diplomats from France, Russia and Germany expressed reluctance to authorize a new multinational force under exclusive U.S. control. Most of the diplomats expressed deep concern about the deteriorating situation in Iraq and urged the occupation authority to return political power to the Iraqi people.

“Although people’s starting positions may be different, it is possible to reach a strong consensus,” Mr. Straw said yesterday.

In Washington, a senior State Department official said yesterday that it was time for members of the Security Council to stand up and support the work being done by the international community and United Nations in Iraq.

“This is not a time for some sterile debate on authority. It is a time to seize the moment,” he said.

The official said the United States was consulting with Mr. Annan and a number of government leaders, including Mr. De Villepin, on the language of a U.N. resolution.

Asked whether he thought France, which stood against the U.S. action in Iraq, would veto any new resolution, the official responded: “I think the French are still the French.

“If council members want to step and do something, that’s fine,” he said.

President Bush, speaking in Seattle, said his administration is working with the United Nations to encourage allies to help bring peace the country. “There will be more foreign troops in Iraq,” he said.

The momentum to expand the coalition has grown since Tuesday’s attack on the U.N. office in Baghdad killed at least 23 and wounded a hundred. In addition, the continued attacks against U.S. soldiers are starting to dent public support for a prolonged occupation.

A resolution that expressly authorizes a multinational force would make it easier for nations to contribute troops without looking like they are supporting an occupying army that is increasingly resented by the Iraqi people.

Arab states, whose participation would give the operation some regional legitimacy, particularly need the U.N. umbrella to get involved. Traditional troop contributors India and Pakistan have also said they would need additional U.N. authorization to send soldiers to Iraq.

Turkey’s top political and military leaders met yesterday to consider a U.S. request to deploy thousands of Turkish soldiers in Iraq — a move that could make this predominantly Muslim country the third-largest foreign country in Iraq. The meeting ended inconclusively, although Turkish leaders are said to be holding out for control over their own sector, possibly in the north.

Turkey had been prepared to host and join the U.S. troops during the March invasion but bailed out at the last moment, forcing the Pentagon to scramble troops at the last minute.

A multinational force could be endorsed by the Security Council but funded and controlled by the 15-member group, as a regular U.N. peacekeeping mission is.

Sharon Behn in Washington contributed to this report.

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