- The Washington Times - Monday, May 10, 2004

The U.N. Security Council has identified six main elements of a resolution that would endorse the transfer of power from the U.S.-led occupation to Iraqis on June 30, with the continued presence of the multinational force emerging as the most contentious issue, diplomats said yesterday.

Although the document has not been drafted, the council held what is called in U.N. jargon an “informal informal” meeting late last week hosted by the British mission in New York.

“What we are doing at this point is sort of gathering ideas about how it might proceed, what kind of elements belong in it and how different questions might be handled,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters.

“There’s a fair amount of congruence on the major issues to be addressed,” he said. “We think those discussions have proceeded well, but obviously we’ll have the kind of usual discussions we have at the U.N. when it comes down to putting words on paper and getting them through.”

Mr. Boucher noted that the Bush administration has not made a final decision about what kind of a draft it would circulate.

A Security Council diplomat in New York said the six elements discussed at the Thursday meeting were:

• Declaring the end of the occupation and transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis.

• Endorsing the new interim government.

• Providing for the continued presence of the multinational force.

• Defining a role for the United Nations.

• Revising the regulations related to the Iraq Development Fund, the arms embargo and other economic issues.

• Addressing Iraq’s legal framework, which is now a mixture of Saddam Hussein-era laws and regulations imposed by the U.S.-led coalition.

“The trickiest issue to negotiate will be the presence of the multinational force,” the diplomat said.

He said the future of Iraqi prisoners in U.S. custody was not discussed at the meeting.

U.S. officials said last week that the resolution could be adopted before a new Iraqi government is named because the United Nations is essentially putting it together. Now it appears that the text will not be introduced until Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. special envoy, prepares a detailed plan.

“It’s some time between when he comes up with a sort of more definitive statement about how he thinks we should proceed and the handover,” Mr. Boucher said.

Mr. Brahimi has said that he hopes to present his plan by the end of May. He is holding a second round of consultations in Iraq since his appointment by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

On this trip, he is joined by Robert Blackwill, who is in charge of Iraq policy on the National Security Council. Mr. Boucher said Mr. Blackwill and Mr. Brahimi are in “frequent contact,” but Mr. Blackwill is “also having other meetings on his own.”

Asked if the United States supports Mr. Brahimi’s initial suggestion that the interim government consist of technocrats and that members of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council be excluded in order to prepare for elections as early as January, Mr. Boucher said:

“Our view is that we should let Ambassador Brahimi proceed in his consultations and that we support his efforts. He is talking to a broad range of people. He’s made clear that he thinks there needs to be a viable and credible political process to form an interim Iraqi government.”

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