The United States and Britain have presented the U.N. Security Council a draft resolution on Iraq, outlining the transfer of full sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government. The handover would take place on June 30. But, a U.S.-led multi-national force would remain in charge of the country's security.
The resolution introduced Monday grants full governing authority to Iraqis on June 30. It gives the United Nations the lead role in overseeing a political process that will result in the establishment of an elected transitional government in Baghdad by early next year.
The measure also authorizes a U.S.-led multinational force to continue operating in Iraq as long as the elected government in Baghdad wishes. Since there will be no elected government till at least early next year, the resolution calls for a review of the force after a year.
The draft is likely to be revised when U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi returns from Iraq. He is currently in Baghdad consulting with Iraqi political leaders.
But British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said the resolution's commitment to full sovereignty is solid. "It underlines clearly that all sovereignty will be returned to the Iraqis, that the interim Iraqi government will assume total responsibility for its own sovereignty," he said.
Among the most contentious issues still to be settled is the mandate of the multinational force that will provide security in Iraq.
France, Germany and Russia - vocal critics of the U.S. and British led coalition in Iraq - have all indicated they will look carefully at the draft. Germany's U.N. ambassador, Gunter Pleuger, said the multi-national force issue is high on his agenda for discussion.
"The security question is an important question, and we will have to have a look at how the organization of the multilateral force and its cooperation with the Iraqi government is being organized in order to provide a maximum of security or a maximum of possibilities to secure the necessary conditions in the country so everybody, including the United Nations, can play their roles," he said.
The resolution states that any multinational force would be led by the United States. But Deputy U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham made clear that the force would stay only as long as it is wanted. "The United States has said that we will leave if there's a request from the government to leave," he said.
The draft introduced Monday formally dissolves the 25-member Iraq Governing Council that has had limited power during the occupation.
The Governing Council is to be replaced by an interim administration that is being selected by U.N. envoy Brahimi, in consultation with coalition officials.
Mr. Brahimi had been expected to remain in Iraq until next week, but diplomats say he may return sooner to join negotiations on the resolution. Mr. Jones Parry, the British ambassador, said he hopes a final draft resolution can be ready for a vote early next month.