- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 15, 2003

The Bush administration yesterday called on the United Nations to treat the new Iraqi Governing Council as the legitimate representative of the Iraqi people and to welcome its delegation to New York next week.

At the same time, the United States lifted restrictions on Americans traveling to Iraq, but it strongly warned citizens against visiting the country because the situation there remains dangerous.

Even though the Iraqi council has not yet sought the U.N. seat previously held by Saddam Hussein’s regime, it is sending a delegation to the Security Council in New York next week to assert its role “as a legitimate Iraqi body during this transitional period.”

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the United States supports that effort.

“This council has considerable authority and will be acting on behalf of the Iraqi people right from the start, including by appointing ministers and supervising ministries,” he told reporters.

“And therefore, in terms of the work that they would do with the Foreign Ministry, they would decide on who would represent Iraq overseas,” he said.

For a country to appoint an ambassador to the United Nations, its head of state or government must send its chosen diplomat’s credentials to the U.N. General Assembly.

Because that does not yet apply to Iraq, where the United States and its coalition partners are the occupying powers, the new council can appoint only a chief of mission, not an ambassador.

Even if such a person is named, the U.N. accreditations office has to approve the application.

While that process has yet to begin, Mr. Boucher said Washington hopes the Security Council “will welcome the [Iraqi] council’s creation and its assumption of responsibilities and authorities, as called for in Resolution 1483,” which provides for Iraq’s postwar reconstruction.

In announcing the lifted travel restrictions for Americans, Mr. Boucher said that the consular services available to them in Iraq are limited.

“The situation is generally dangerous, and therefore we strongly warn against such travel,” he said.

He also advised other countries against sending diplomats to Baghdad.

“We are not able to guarantee security of other countries’ diplomats or officials in Baghdad,” he said. “We are not able to, at this point, promise that their privileges and immunities can all be respected. People have to take that into account in deciding whether to have somebody in Baghdad or not.”

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