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Bush to Look for More Support in Iraq - 2003-09-18

President Bush will be looking for more support for U.S. operations in Iraq when he addresses the U.N. Security Council next week. The administration is hoping to sway France and Germany, which want the United States to relinquish political control in Iraq sooner than Washington thinks is prudent.

President Bush wants another U.N. resolution on Iraq to encourage more countries to take part in peacekeeping and reconstruction there.

Following a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah, Mr. Bush said he needs to convince skeptical European leaders that a free Iraq brings benefits beyond the Middle East.

"One of the things I must do, and will continue to do, is make the case that a peaceful and secure Iraq is not only in the interest of the neighborhood - certainly in Jordan's interest that there be a nation that is peaceful and prosperous - but it's in Europe's interest, as well," he said.

The president says a U.N. resolution on Iraq must promote the orderly transfer of sovereignty to a freely-elected government, after the writing of a new constitution. That means a substantially longer timetable than French and German demands that U.S. control of Iraq's transitional authority end within a month, so the whole operation can be turned over to the United Nations.

Mr. Bush goes to the United Nations Tuesday for the first time since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, which the world body refused to endorse. When he was last asking for that support, Mr. Bush said the United Nations risked making itself irrelevant, if it did not sign-on to the invasion.

Now, he is returning to New York asking for another resolution on Iraq, chiefly because Pakistan, India, and Turkey say they will not contribute troops without one.

Mr. Bush does have some international backing on the ground in Iraq, with troops in two multinational divisions, one led by Britain, the other by Poland. But even with that help, U.S. officials say, it will be difficult to maintain current U.S. troop levels of more than 140,000 soldiers, without assistance from other nations.

The Bush administration is also looking for greater financial contributions to help rebuild Iraq. Revenue from Iraqi oil sales is far below Pentagon estimates, and the president is asking Congress for another $87 billion dollars for Iraq.

At the United Nations, Mr. Bush says, he hopes European governments will agree to share more of those costs.

"We will continue to make the case that reconstruction aid is necessary, and we will also remind our European friends that we are making good progress there," he said. "That businesses are beginning to flourish, hospitals are open, pregnant women are receiving medicines, young children are getting vaccinated. There is case after case after case where life is improving for the average Iraqi citizen. And we would hope that they would participate in this momentum that is taking place on a daily basis."

While the United States will not relinquish military control in Iraq, there are signs that the administration is willing to negotiate greater political and economic roles for Security Council members, in exchange for a resolution that meets other countries' requirements for sending troops.