The United States and Britain have offered the U.N. Security Council a fresh draft resolution that would grant sovereignty to Iraq's interim government at the end of this month. The resolution sets a time limit for withdrawal of the U.S.-led multinational force.
The revised resolution was introduced Tuesday, hours after the composition of Iraq's interim government was announced in Baghdad.
The new draft contains several changes intended to strengthen guarantees that Iraq's transitional government will enjoy full sovereignty. Iraqis would have complete control over their natural resources, as well as over national police and military forces.
At the same time, the resolution authorizes a multinational security force essentially under U.S. command. The force's mandate would run until a constitutionally elected government is installed. That is likely to be in December of next year or January 2006.
British and U.S. officials, however, have said the force, known as the MNF, would leave if asked to do so by the transitional government to be elected next January. U.S. Deputy Ambassador James Cunningham described the process as one of working out a relationship between two sovereign elements.
"That's really an issue we need to work out with the Iraqis. What we're creating here is a partnership between the MNF and a sovereign Iraqi government," says Mr. Cunningham. "That's a relationship between two sovereigns, those who are willing to contribute to the MNF and help Iraq, and the sovereign government, and we're just beginning those discussions right now about how we're going to do that."
France had earlier proposed a two-week waiting period to gauge Iraqi reaction before bringing the resolution to a vote. But Britain's U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones-Parry, who briefed council members on the revised draft, said he was hopeful a vote would be held sooner. "Our soundings in capitals and elsewhere suggest we've come very close to meeting what most people want, and I don't envisage a two-week gap," he said.
After seeing the latest draft, several council members described it as a step in the right direction. But Chile's U.N. envoy Heraldo Munoz summed up the feelings of several when he said there is still room for improvement.
"We need to listen first to Ambassador Brahimi and his suggestions, to the secretary general, and most importantly to the members of the sovereign interim government that has just been announced," says Mr. Munoz. "Therefore those inputs will be fundamental to a resolution. We are on the right track, but a lot of work is ahead of us."
Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari is reported on his way to New York to join the Security Council's debate on the resolution Thursday. The U.N. special envoy to Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi is also expected to brief the council, but no firm date has been set for Mr. Brahimi's arrival.