- The Washington Times - Friday, May 9, 2003

NEW YORK — The United States will introduce a U.N. resolution today that would lift sanctions on Iraq immediately and phase out the oil-for-food program over the next four months, diplomats said yesterday.But the proposal already faces opposition from Russia and France, raising concerns about another divisive diplomatic fray like the one that preceded the U.S.-led war to oust Saddam Hussein.The U.S.-sponsored resolution also would create an international advisory board — including U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund — to audit the spending of income from Iraq’s oil industry and to ensure it is benefiting the Iraqi people, the council diplomats said.They said Mr. Annan would be asked to appoint a special coordinator for Iraq to be based in Baghdad to oversee U.N. involvement in rebuilding efforts.U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte asked the Security Council to schedule a meeting today to begin consultations on the draft.President Bush ordered some U.S. economic sanctions against Iraq lifted Wednesday, allowing U.S. humanitarian aid and remittances to flow into Iraq.The U.N. resolution proposed by Washington would lift the crippling sanctions imposed after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, which led to the 1991 Persian Gulf war, although the arms embargo would remain in place.Russia and France, which had lucrative contracts with Saddam’s government under the oil-for-food program, have not been in a hurry to end it.The United States also could face opposition from council members who want the world body to have a major role in creating an interim government for Iraq. U.S. officials have insisted that Washington and its allies in the war must retain control.Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov said Wednesday that Moscow wants only a suspension of the embargoes on food and medicine.Russia has circulated its own draft resolution calling for Mr. Annan to run the oil-for-food program until an internationally recognized Iraqi government comes to power.Phasing out the oil-for-food program over four months — as the United States wants — would end U.N. control over Iraq’s oil revenue. Washington wants to use the money to pay for Iraq’s reconstruction.U.N. humanitarian programs that have been operating under the oil-for-food program would end as well, although U.N. officials already have started setting up new aid programs in Iraq. The program had been feeding up to 90 percent of Iraq’s 24 million people before the war.No date has been set for a vote on the resolution, but Security Council diplomats are working against a June 3 deadline when the current six-month phase of the oil-for-food program expires.Many council members have said they want to avoid more bruising diplomatic confrontations. But emotions are still raw from the dispute over the war, which saw the United States, Britain and Spain backing an invasion of Iraq, and France, Russia, Germany and China opposing military action.Mr. Bush and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell adopted a conciliatory tone Wednesday and stressed the importance of putting aside differences and uniting to help Iraqi rebuild.The president said “the mood that existed before the war has changed and people want to work together for the good of the Iraqi people.”



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