- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 6, 2003

The United States is drafting a “principal” U.N. Security Council resolution on Iraq that would lift sanctions, outline a “coordinating” role for the United Nations and provide for other nations to take part in postwar reconstruction.The State Department said yesterday that the first resolution would be followed by several “auxiliary” measures aimed at various subsequent tasks, such as approval of a new Iraqi government and recovering antiquities stolen from the National Museum in Baghdad.Secretary of State Colin L. Powell will travel to three countries that hold Security Council seats — Russia, Germany and Bulgaria — next week to seek support for the main resolution, having done so in Spain last week.”We’ve had some discussions of language at this point within the U.S. government and with a few of the other members of the council,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters.”We expect to broaden this discussion in coming days and have discussion with other members of the council as soon as we can, as soon as we can have language for them,” he said.Some U.S. officials said, however, that details of any Security Council action have not been worked out yet even within the Bush administration, which has been divided on whether to seek one or more resolutions for weeks.The United States plans to introduce a resolution as early as this week calling on countries not to allow any imports of Iraqi antiquities and to return any they discover to the Baghdad museum, U.N. diplomats said.Most treasures from the museum, which housed thousands of rare objects and artifacts from Mesopotamia, were stolen during several days of looting last month, after the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime.Among the most precious of them were the Vase of Uruk and the Harp of Ur, dating to between 3,000 and 2,500 B.C.Interpol has started a worldwide hunt for stolen treasures and warned collectors not to buy pieces of art they suspect have been stolen.While the antiquities measure is expected to pass quickly, U.S. officials and U.N. diplomats said negotiating the principal resolution will be difficult.Mr. Powell said in Madrid on Friday that the debate in the council “should be directed toward the future and with the Iraqi people, and not to fight out some of the old battles” from before the war in Iraq.France, which led opposition to the war in the council, has moved closer to the U.S. view on sanctions, although it prefers to “suspend” sanctions while Washington wants to “lift” or “end” them.But Russia, citing Resolution 687 from 1991, says that nothing can change until U.N. weapons inspectors go back to Iraq and declare it free of weapons of mass destruction.The United States says the council can change its own rules because the situation on the ground has improved dramatically and Saddam’s regime, which was the sanctions’ target, is no longer in power.The Bush administration is handling the aftermath of its disputes with Paris and Moscow in a markedly different manner. While it is warning France of “consequences” to the relationship, it is offering Russia a “renewal phase.”In fact, in an attempt to win Moscow’s support for lifting the sanctions, Washington has agreed to let it benefit from contracts within the U.N. oil-for-food program even if it is not extended after it expires June 3.The U.S. position is that “approved and already-funded contracts should be honored,” a senior U.S. official said.Administration officials said they are trying to convince Russia that lifting the sanctions is in its economic interests.”We have argued that their longer-term interests in Iraq would be best assured by working to find a constructive relationship with the emerging Iraqi authorities and to look … forward and not to refight the battles that we fought in the Security Council,” a senior U.S. diplomat said.

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