Secretary of State Colin Powell said Friday he expects that leaders of the soon-to-be-named Iraqi interim government will take part in U.N. Security Council debate on a resolution endorsing the June 30 transfer of sovereignty from the U.S. -led coalition. He said discussion of the U.S. and British-sponsored resolution has been constructive, and that he does not expect the process to stall.
Mr. Powell said he could not confirm press accounts that U.N. envoy Lakdar Brahimi is preparing to name Shiite Muslim political figure Iyad Allawi to be Iraq's interim prime minister after the June 30 power transfer. But he said he expects an early and prominent role for the incoming Iraqi leadership, including travel to New York to take part in talks on the U.N. resolution that is aimed at generating world support for the transition.
"I think it would be good for this new Iraqi interim government, as we're considering the resolution, to present its views on the resolution," said Colin Powell. "Now, who should come to New York, considering all the things that this new interim government will have to do while it gets ready to assume sovereignty? But I would fully expect that as soon as this interim government is announced, the leadership is announced, we expect that they will reach out to the United Nations so that they can be a part of this process of resolution drafting and writing."
Mr. Powell, who spoke to reporters at Washington's Foreign Press Center, said the Bush administration is open to discussing changes in the resolution, including the key issue of the degree of Iraqi control over U.S. -led coalition forces during the tenure of the interim government.
He acknowledged that China - which reportedly wants the mandate of the force to expire in January - has offered "some ideas" on the matter but he also said he thinks the language in the existing draft is adequate.
"It's made clear in the resolution that those forces are there at the consent of the government of the people of Iraq. And if you look at paragraph 10, you will see clearly that those forces are there at the consent," he said. "Which means that if consent is withdrawn, consent is withdrawn, and coalition forces would depart. The U.N. resolution also says let's review it after 12 months, or anytime the government of Iraq wishes to review it, and we've spoken clearly about that."
U.S. and British officials say they hope to have the resolution adopted by early next month. Mr. Powell said he hopes its approval will trigger broader contributions to Iraqi security and reconstruction, including from countries that have not been supportive of U.S. efforts in Iraq thus far.
He said he does not expect the resolution to "open the floodgates" to major contributions of troops, but that countries can still assist the process by helping train and equip Iraqi security forces.