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Powell Lobbies for Passage of US-Backed Resolution on Iraq - 2003-05-20

Secretary of State Colin Powell engaged in telephone diplomacy Tuesday, seeking early U.N. Security Council action on an American-backed resolution lifting sanctions against Iraq and allowing its oil revenue to finance reconstruction. Bush administration officials hope for final council action this week.

Mr. Powell made two calls to his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov and also spoke to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Spain in a drive to build consensus behind the draft resolution presented late Monday.

The draft, sponsored by the United States, Britain and Spain, would leave the U.S.-led coalition in overall control of Iraq until an internationally-recognized Iraqi government takes office.

But State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says the measure has been amended to more clearly define the United Nations' role in post-war Iraq and to accommodate other concerns of council members.

"The changes that we've been making to the resolution we think go in the direction of many things we've been hearing from other governments," he explained. "We think they have and will have substantial support, and that the resolution still achieves its essential purpose, which is to lift the sanctions on the Iraqi people, define a vital role that the United Nations can play in the recovery, provide a mechanism for the sales of Iraqi oil so that whole process can get going and so that money can be used in a transparent manner for the Iraqi people."

While the Bush administration had initially spoken only of a coordinating role for the U.N., the amended resolution calls for a U.N. special representative for Iraq "with independent powers" to work with the United States and Britain in setting up a new government in Baghdad.

The U.N. Oil-for-Food program would be phased out over six months, rather than the four months originally sought by the United States, in order to meet Russian and French concerns that more time be allocated to clear up disputes over past oil contracts.

Officials here say the diplomatic negotiations over the draft resolution have been amiable and in marked contrast to the angry debate preceding the Iraq war, when France, Russia, China and Germany refused to authorize U.S.-led military action.

Spokesman Boucher said the secretary of state hopes for a unanimous 15-to-nothing Security Council vote for the measure, perhaps before he leaves Washington late Wednesday for a meeting of foreign ministers of the G8 industrial powers and Russia in Paris.