The United States has unveiled a revised draft Security Council resolution on Iraq. The resolution outlines a step-by-step process for transferring power to Iraqis, but avoids setting a timetable.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte says the revised draft contains no schedule for the handover over sovereignty to Iraqis, as critics such as France had wanted.
But he told reporters the document unveiled Thursday stresses that the handover should be achieved as quickly as possible, according to a specific plan laid out by Washington.
"As far as governmental functions are concerned, we're all in favor of transferring them as rapidly as we possibly can," he said. "I think where we have a difference of perspective with some is the issue of establishing an interim government prior to the drafting of a constitution or the conduct of elections. Our approach would be that a constitution would be drafted first, the elections would take place, and after that, and only after that, would full governmental functions be handed over to the Iraqis."
Ambassador Negroponte said the resolution foresees a greatly expanded role for the United Nations, and spells out responsibilities for the secretary-general. But he said that while other countries will be encouraged to contribute troops to a coalition force in Iraq, the United States would retain command over what would in effect be a U.N. authorized multinational force.
"We've incorporated into the revised text language that details an expanded and explicit role for United Nations, especially in the political transition process, and urge secretary-general to pursue the specific course of action he proposed in his July 17 report," said Mr. Negroponte.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan's initial comment on reading the revised draft was skeptical. He told reporters the document was not going in the direction he had recommended. Despite that cautionary statement, Mr. Annan said his office would study the draft.
The document received mixed initial reaction from other permanent Security Council members. The French U.N. ambassador told reporters the revisions did not address French wishes. He said that, for example, the new draft leaves the United Nations in a secondary role.
France, which led opposition to the earlier draft, has said, however, that it would not block the resolution. French diplomats have said there is a strong desire to avoid the bitter divisions that split the council before the last Iraq war.