- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 15, 2003

NEW YORK — The United States, although confident it had sufficient support, was forced last night to postpone a U.N. vote on its new Iraq resolution after the Russian delegation requested more time to receive instructions from President Vladimir Putin.

The U.N. Security Council, chaired this month by U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte, is scheduled to vote this morning.

“We had good consultations. The resolution will be put to a vote tomorrow morning at 10 oclock,” Mr. Negroponte said. “We see positive movement towards greater consensus in the council.”

Mr. Negroponte defended the lengthy and often contentious negotiations over the resolution, saying that “with respect to a subject as difficult and complicated and important as Iraq, we wanted to […] take suggestions into account.”

Earlier, as diplomats filed into the council chambers expecting to vote on the controversial text, Russian Ambassador Sergey Lavrov said: “I dont think we can vote tonight. We have to wait until the president can discuss the final text.”

He said Mr. Putin, who was flying to a conference in Malaysia, would confer with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac at 6 a.m. this morning.

His remarks followed a day of private discussions between Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and other council foreign ministers in a U.S. attempt to win greater support for the four-page text.

In its latest and most carefully worded version, the draft seeks to secure new military and monetary contributions to the stabilization and reconstruction of postwar Iraq.

The text also incorporates suggested French, Russian and German language meant to guarantee that the U.S.-dominated ruling coalition will return sovereignty to the Iraqi people as quickly as possible.

A majority of the 15 Security Council members opposed the initial version of the draft when it was introduced two weeks ago, saying it did not guarantee the United Nations a sufficiently central or independent role in rebuilding Iraq.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who did not attend last nights consultations, was an early and acerbic critic of the U.S. text. U.N. officials have been wary of returning to Iraq until they can appear independent of the occupation authority.

The latest U.S. draft, distributed to diplomats yesterday evening, calls on the organization to “strengthen its vital role in Iraq,” providing relief and economic assistance as well as “advancing efforts to restore and establish national and local institutions for representative government.”

The draft also seeks to reassure critics that the United States will not rule Iraq longer than necessary.

Key U.N. diplomats spent much of the day discussing the evolving draft with council counterparts and their own capitals.

U.S. officials appeared to concentrate their efforts on winning over Moscow, which effectively isolated Berlin and Paris.

French diplomats, acknowledging unbridgable differences with the Bush administration, weeks ago promised to abstain from voting on the text rather than vetoing it.

Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangye told reporters early yesterday evening that he would prefer continued negotiations on the draft, as well as speeding up sovereignty and expanding the U.N. role.

Pakistani Ambassador Munir Akram said he anticipated 11 or 12 votes in favor, and indicated that his country would be one of them.

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