Gregorio Borgia  /  AP
A U.S. soldier walks past concrete walls in Baghdad, Iraq, on Tuesday. The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to extend by a year the mandate of the multinational force.
updated 11/8/2005 9:54:52 PM ET 2005-11-09T02:54:52

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to extend the mandate of the nearly 180,000-strong multinational force in Iraq for a year, a move the United States called a strong signal of the international commitment to Iraq’s political transition.

The resolution, co-sponsored by the United States, Britain, Denmark, Japan and Romania, was adopted in response to a request from Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari for the U.S.-led force to remain in the country.

The current mandate authorizing the presence of the force expires on Dec. 31, about two weeks after parliamentary elections — the end point of the political process as defined by the Security Council.

The resolution extends the mandate until Dec. 31, 2006, with a review after eight months. Under its terms, the council will “terminate this mandate earlier if requested by the government of Iraq.”

The force comprises 157,000 American troops and 22,000 troops from other countries.

Bolton praises ‘significant signal’
U.S. Ambassador John Bolton called the unanimous vote “a significant signal that the international community’s committed to making the process in Iraq — as they attempt to create institutions of representative government — succeed.”

Asked why the resolution was adopted nearly two months early, Bolton said, “We wanted to get the mandate extended to show the solidarity of international support for the electoral process in Iraq and to avoid it becoming an issue in the upcoming election, and also to resolve it well before the Dec. 31 expiration.”

Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said security is the underpinning of the political development and economic prosperity needed to build peace in Iraq.

Adopting the resolution ahead of the Dec. 15 elections eliminates any possible uncertainty about the continuation of the force since “everybody knows the Iraqis want the multinational force to continue,” he said.

Request made last month
Al-Jaafari requested the yearlong extension in a letter to the council last month. He said his nation was nearing the end of a political transition that began with the toppling of Saddam Hussein by U.S.-led forces in 2003.

“The Iraqi national security forces which are increasing in size, capability and experience day after day need more time to complete their training, ranks and equipment in order to take over the primary responsibility of providing adequate security for Iraqis,” he wrote.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in an Oct. 29 letter to the council, said that since the U.S. occupation of Iraq ended on June 28, 2004, the multinational force and the Iraqi government developed a security partnership to address “Iraq’s security environment, including the continuing need to prevent and deter acts of terrorism.”

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