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US, Britain Confident About UN Resolution on Iraq

The United States and Britain appear confident of winning broad support for a crucial U.N. Security Council resolution on Iraq. A final vote has been delayed by one day, to allow for last-minute consultations.

Sponsors of the Iraq resolution submitted a fifth draft Wednesday evening, just hours after a fourth draft was circulated. The changes were in answer to amendments proposed by France, Germany and Russia -- three key Security Council members that had voiced strong reservations about earlier drafts.

Diplomats say the latest draft concedes several points, but holds firm in not setting any timetable for handing over full sovereignty to Iraqis. The changes may be enough to win over skeptics. Russia asked for a brief delay of the vote so President Vladimir Putin could hold a videophone conference Thursday with his French and German counterparts.

After hashing out details of the final proposal, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte spoke hopefully of a victory for diplomacy. "Without doing violence to the underlying principles of the draft resolution, I think a major effort been made by ourselves and the other co-sponsors to take into account the comments from other delegations," he said. "So I think it proves we've been listening, and we understand importance of passing a resolution with as strong a statement of consensus on the part of the Council as possible."

Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry of co-sponsor Britain suggested the resolution would send a strong message to a donor's conference in Madrid next week, where the international community will be asked to contribute money and troops to help in the Iraq rebuilding project. "Our earnest hope is international community can come together and demonstrate very clearly we're in business of transferring authority as soon as possible more and more to Iraqis," he said. "That the international community is committed to sustaining and actually developing the sort of Iraq that Iraqis are entitled to have, and that we've provided the means by which the Secretary General can implement this resolution as and when conditions permit."

The movement toward consensus came after a day of intense lobbying between foreign capitals. Secretary of State Colin Powell made phone calls during the day to leaders or foreign ministers of China, Pakistan, Russia, Germany, France, Spain, Britain and Angola in an effort to round up support.

The final vote is expected after brief final consultations, later today, although diplomats do not rule out further last-minute adjustments.