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US Hopes for Quick Approval of New UN Resolution on Iraq - 2003-10-13

The United States is hoping the U.N. Security Council will move quickly to adopt a new proposed resolution on Iraq. The new draft resolution sets a December 15 deadline for the Iraqi Governing Council to present a timeline for drafting a new constitution and holding elections. The draft is to presented in the Security Council Tuesday.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte says he wants to move quickly on the new draft resolution. "We are looking to the adoption of this resolution sometime during the course of this week," he said.

The urgent push is an indication of Washington's desire to secure an expanded U.N. role in Iraq, before a donor conference in Madrid later this month.

The new draft resolution would give Iraq's Governing Council until mid-December to set a timeline for drafting a new constitution and establishing a plan for elections.

Secretary of State Colin Powell has said it should take six months for the Iraqis to draft a constitution, the first step toward an elected government in Baghdad. Members of the U-S-appointed Iraqi Governing Council have said the whole process could take two years.

Some countries, led by France, have said the United States should relinquish control of Iraq more quickly.

Those countries responded cautiously to the new draft resolution. France's foreign minister said it required further study. Russian officials suggested some changes were needed.

Germany's U.N. ambassador, Gunter Pleuger, cited comments by German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, who is meeting with his European Union counterparts in Luxembourg.

"Minister Fischer has said today in Luxembourg, after a first perusal of the resolution, that this seems to be step in the right direction. We will have to check if the French-German amendments are all covered by this new version," he said.

At the core of the dispute is also a bigger role for the United Nations in Iraq and for the Iraqis themselves.

U.S. Ambassador Negroponte emphasized that the new draft resolution allows for the U.S.-led coalition to retain control over certain Iraqi government functions only temporarily.

"The notion is to make every effort to convey back to the people of Iraq and to the interim Iraqi administration as many of those authorities and governmental powers, as soon as practicable," he said.

The United States is hoping for a vote in the Security Council by the end of the week.