Thursday, August 21, 2003

NEW YORK — France and other opponents of the war in Iraq gave a tepid response yesterday to a Bush administration request at the United Nations for additional troops.

Two days after a suicide truck bomber destroyed the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, killing at least 23 persons, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell met U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to discuss a new Security Council resolution.

The United States is seeking passage of a resolution that would make it easier for nations such as India, Turkey and Pakistan to contribute troops — under the U.S. command — to the American-led multinational force in Iraq.

“I think anybody making the contribution, a military contribution, sending their young men and women into harm’s way, want them to be under solid, responsible, competent military leadership of the kind that is being provided by the coalition and the military component of the coalition,” Mr. Powell said.

France, which led opposition to the war in the United Nations, responded by chiding the United States for failing to build a “genuine” international partnership.

Iraq’s reconstruction requires “the joint mobilization of the entire international community,” French Ambassador Michel Duclos said.

“But that is only possible if the Coalition Provisional Authority acknowledges they could not succeed alone,” he said, using the name for the U.S.-led administration in Iraq.

Mr. Duclos said that coalition authorities should permit the return of U.N. weapons inspectors to search for weapons of mass destruction, and that the coalition should cooperate more actively with noncoalition members.

“To share the burden and the responsibilities in a world of equal and sovereign nations also means sharing information and authority,” Mr. Duclos said.

Mr. Annan, clearly grieving after Tuesday’s attack on the U.N. compound in Baghdad, indicated he could endorse the U.S. effort.

“We all realize that it is urgent to help bring peace to Iraq, bring peace to the region,” he said. “An Iraq that is destabilized, an Iraq that is in chaos, is not in the interest of the region or the world. And we do have a responsibility to ensure this.”

Some 86 persons remained hospitalized after the suicide bombing, and the United Nations announced yesterday it would pull about 100 staffers out of Iraq, reducing its force to 200 essential personnel.

Other council members sided with France and did not share Mr. Annan’s enthusiasm for a new U.N. resolution.

China, Russia and Pakistan said the responsibility to provide security in Iraq — to international and private organizations, and to the Iraqis themselves — rests with the U.S.-led coalition.

They also urged the authorities to restore self-determination and other responsibilities to the Iraqis as quickly as possible.

A spokesman in the German Foreign Ministry said in a telephone interview from Berlin it was unlikely Germany would change its earlier position that the United Nations should take command of rebuilding Iraq.

“Germany will not send soldiers to Iraq,” the spokesman said.

“It looks like the new resolution would only use better language, but not a change in substance,” he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

U.S. officials are working with the British to draft another Security Council resolution that Mr. Powell said “might call on member states to do more” for Iraq.

In exchange, Washington would allow the United Nations a larger role in the economic, political and social aspects of the reconstruction.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the goal of a new resolution would be to ensure that the U.N. and international community could continue rebuilding Iraq.

“After the bombing, however, we think it’s important for the United Nations, the Security Council and the international community to stand up again and to get more involved, and for those who would look for more authorization to provide that, so even more countries — even more assistance can be provided,” he said.

“Some countries, like India, have already stated publicly that they might be looking for this kind of statement from the United Nations, or more explicit authorization from the United Nations,” said Mr. Boucher.

The United States has been in discussion with 14 countries, including India, Pakistan and Turkey, regarding contributions to the international peacekeeping force in Iraq.

Mr. Powell in New York emphasized that any expanded international troop presence would have to be under U.S. command.

“The issue of ceding authority is not an issue that we have had to discuss this morning,” he said.

• Waltraud Kaserer contributed to this report from Washington.

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