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US Pushes for Quick Approval of New UN Draft Resolution on Iraq - 2003-10-14

The United States is pushing for quick U.N. Security Council approval of a newly-revised draft resolution on Iraq. The latest draft is drawing the same opposition as two earlier versions.

U.S. officials say a vote could come within days on the third draft of Washington's proposal for rebuilding Iraq.

The document, co-sponsored by Britain and Spain, is aimed at winning broader international support for the U.S. plan. It is similar to previous drafts.

One of the biggest changes sets a December 15 date for Iraqis to come up with a timetable for writing a constitution and holding elections.

But while critics of the first two drafts say it is a step in the right direction, they suggest it might not be enough to win them over.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who has been outspoken in his criticisms of the plan, expressed appreciation for changes that address some of his concerns. But he indicated disappointment that there has been no movement on the question of how and when full sovereignty will be handed over to Iraqis.

"I have stated my views very clearly to the members of the Security Council over the last couple weeks on the process in Iraq, including the constitutional and electoral aspects," he said. "Obviously, the current resolution does not represent a major shift in the thinking of the coalition."

Permanent Security Council members France, Russia and China have all expressed reservations about the draft. So have many elected members, including Germany and Pakistan. Several are planning to offer amendments.

Even so, it appears the resolution could garner the nine votes necessary for approval if a vote were called immediately. But Secretary General Annan cautioned the sponsors against rushing to a vote without a broad consensus.

"I would hope the drafters of the resolution will work it out with other members to get as broad support as possible," he said. "I've always maintained a Council is at its best and has greatest impact when it is united and comes up with a resolution that commands strong support."

The draft resolution is aimed at persuading more countries to contribute troops and money to help stabilize and rebuild Iraq. U.S. officials are hoping for a strong mandate in time for an Iraq donors conference in Madrid beginning October 23.