- The Washington Times - Monday, June 7, 2004

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice yesterday said the U.N. Security Council will reach an agreement for a resolution on the future of Iraq within the “next few days.”

“We are very close,” Miss Rice told “Fox News Sunday” from France, where President Bush was marking the 60th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy with leaders including French President Jacques ChiracandGerman Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

Miss Rice’s remarks were similar to ones made by Mr. Schroeder, who said yesterday he expects an agreement to be reached before or at the Group of Eight summit this week in Sea Island, Ga.

“We, in any case, want to help,” Mr. Schroeder told ZDF German television.

Germany, China and France were among nations last week advocating that a specific date be set for terminating the U.S.-led troop presence in Iraq, albeit with options to extend the mandate.

France, which holds veto power at the U.N. Security Council, has opposed the Iraq war.

Mr. Bush met with Mr. Chirac on Saturday for the first time since September, and Miss Rice said an agreement had been reached on “most of the major issues.” She said the United States has “come to agreement with the Iraqis, and that’s what matters.”

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, meanwhile, said differences between the United States and France about Iraq “are not going away.”

In an appearance on CNN’s “Late Edition,” Mr. Powell added, however, that the French and Americans “have come together again, in the recognition that the Iraqi people need the help of the international community.”

The U.N. Security Council has been hammering out the details of a resolution that will recognize the new Iraqi government and the scope of its authority in relation to U.S.-led forces.

A newly appointed interim government will take over in Iraq later this month and remain in power until nationwide elections are held early next year.

Diplomats at the United Nations are negotiating the level of influence the new government will have over U.S. military actions in Iraq. At issue is whether the Iraqis will have authority to veto military actions, such as strategic tactics used by U.S. troops fighting insurgents.

The interim government’s prime minister, Iyad Allawi, yesterday said military actions taken after the transfer of sovereignty must have the backing of Iraq’s interim government.

During an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp., Mr. Allawi also said Iraq’s new government “would like the multinational forces to remain in Iraq for some time until Iraq is capable of handling its own security.”

But he stressed that military actions by the occupation forces “should be agreed and there should be a full and comprehensive coordination and cooperation between the Iraqi government and the multinational forces both in defensive and offensive situation.”

“We don’t like to use words of vetoes and so on; we like to use the word of full agreement,” he said.

In another development yesterday, political leaders in the Kurdish area of northern Iraq threatened to pull out of the new government if the U.N. resolution is not amended to reflect the autonomy won by Iraqi Kurds in an interim constitution in March.

The interim constitution negotiated in March formalized that autonomy by legitimizing the Kurdish National Assembly, which governs much of northern Iraq and lets Kurds maintain their police and internal security forces.

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