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Opponents seek changes in U.N. resolution on Iraq

Four nations proposed major changes Wednesday to the U.S.-British U.N. resolution. They include giving the new Iraqi government the right to decide whether a multinational force remains in the country.
/ Source: news services

Four key nations proposed major changes Wednesday to the U.S.-British draft resolution on Iraq, including giving the new Iraqi government the right to decide whether the multinational force remains in the country and to limit the force’s mandate until January.

A three-page proposal by China — which diplomats said was supported by Russia, France and Germany — would give the interim government that takes over on June 30 greater authority than would the resolution Britain and the United States introduced to the U.N. Security Council on Monday.

The proposal, obtained by The Associated Press, was submitted to council members Wednesday afternoon during a closed-door discussion of the U.S.-British draft.

The alternate plan would give the interim government control of the Iraqi army and police force and require the multinational force to “consult with the interim government in respect of military actions except for self-defense.” Those issues are not mentioned in the U.S.-British draft.

Resistance from Baghdad
The U.S.-British blueprint has also been greeted with criticism from the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council.

“We found it less than our expectations,” Chairman Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer told reporters after a meeting of the council Tuesday. “We as Iraqis see the necessity of the presence of [outside] forces. But in the period to come we want to have the right to ask that these forces leave.”

The council issued a statement Tuesday saying it wanted to discuss full Iraqi control of “the activities of the Iraqi armed forces and security forces,” as well as of oil reserves and the Iraqi Development Fund, which the United States established last year to use oil revenues to pay for reconstruction.

Al-Yawer said Iraqis should control revenue from oil sales, which Washington proposes should remain subject to international audit.

Council member Ahmad Chalabi went further, saying the draft resolution “will fail the test for Iraqi sovereignty. ... One of the foundations of sovereignty is that the Iraqi government must control the armed forces regarding recruitment, supplies or movements.”

Iraqi Defense Minister Ali Allawi said he expected Iraq’s security forces to be ready to replace foreign soldiers within a year.

“The timing of a presence of a multinational force, it is a question of months rather than years,” Allawi said Tuesday at a news conference in London with British Defense Minister Geoff Hoon. “The multinational force will need to be replaced by an indigenous force, an Iraqi force, in the course of a year.”

He said an Iraqi security force should be in place “by and large” before national elections set for January.

Another council member, Mahmoud Othman, said the Governing Council also objected to provisions making U.S., British and other foreign soldiers immune from prosecution under Iraqi law.

“They would not be locally accountable when they do anything wrong,” he said.

Question of sovereignty
The United States and Britain unveiled the long-awaited plan hours before President Bush said in a nationally televised address Monday that U.S. forces would stay in Iraq until it was free and democratic.

Under the resolution, the multinational force would be authorized to take “all necessary measures” to maintain security and prevent terrorism. No mention was made of the Iraqi army, except the need for training.

The mandate for U.S.-led forces in Iraq would be reviewed after a year, or earlier if a transitional government due to take power after the January elections requests it. But U.S. Deputy Ambassador James Cunningham said the United States would keep its promise “that we will leave if there’s a request from the government to leave,” which he called highly unlikely.