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U.N. Draft Lets Iraqis Order Pullout

The U.S. and Britain hope for a vote Tuesday, though France wants Baghdad to have the right to sign off on sensitive missions.

June 07, 2004|Maggie Farley | Times Staff Writer

UNITED NATIONS — The United States and Britain want to vote Tuesday on a revised resolution for Iraq, but France and other Security Council members are pressing for a final point: to guarantee Iraq's right to approve sensitive military operations.

Buoyed by a largely receptive attitude toward an amended draft, the U.S. and Britain will present the revised version today. They hope to win unanimous backing by Tuesday so that the issue doesn't overshadow a Group of 8 economic summit in Sea Island, Ga.

In a special Sunday evening session, the council reviewed a new version of the resolution that gives Iraq's interim government the right to ask the multinational force to leave at any time -- a significant concession on the part of the U.S. and Britain made with assurances from the incoming Iraqi leaders that they won't press it.

"With those provisions, we believe we've met all the wishes of our colleagues," said British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry. "We expect to be on the glide path to the vote on the resolution."

The resolution is supplemented by an exchange of letters between Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell detailing the parameters for security cooperation in Iraq.

The letters say the U.S. commander and the Iraqi government will consult and coordinate on "fundamental security and policy issues including policy on sensitive offensive operations" through a committee on national security that will include the U.S. commander or a designated official.

There will also be national and local committees in Iraq for coordination.

But the exchange does not detail how to resolve potential disagreements over operations -- such as the recent clash over whether to use force or negotiate with Shiite militia leader Muqtada Sadr in Najaf -- and who has the ultimate say.

The letters also note that Iraq will maintain control over its own forces and police, but not over multinational troops.

Notably, Iraq will not have jurisdiction if any foreign troops violate its laws or international laws.

The correspondence will be attached to the resolution as annexes and is referred to within the text. But it may not have the same legal status as the resolution, legal experts said.

To protect Iraq's right to sign off on sensitive operations, France and other nations want the issues spelled out in the resolution, not merely contained in an annex.

France submitted an amendment saying that the Iraqi government should be able to decide whether its forces would participate in operations with multinational forces, and that for sensitive offensive operations, "the consent of the Iraqi Government should be required."

French Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere said, "This is what is in the letter, so we hope it is in the text."

The other Security Council members told the U.S. and Britain that they supported the amendment, said diplomats in the meeting.

The Sunday session was a last push in a negotiation that has lasted three weeks and undergone four text revisions. Divisions narrowed last week when Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the council that Iraq needed international troops to help stabilize the country and wanted them to stay as long as necessary.

Zebari deflated demands by France, Germany, China and Russia to give Iraq a veto over the U.S. commander by privately telling diplomats that it wasn't necessary and that they should not be "more Iraqi than the Iraqis."

Algerian Ambassador Abdallah Baali, an early critic of the resolution, said that he supported the French amendment and that if it were incorporated, the Security Council would be close to consensus.

"There are no more real obstacles," he said.

The council also reviewed an amendment to the Transitional Administrative Law that will serve as a legal framework for the interim government until elections in January 2005.

The caretaker government agreed that it should refrain from making long-term decisions or contracts that would bind an elected government.

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