Bush administration officials say the United States is preparing a revised draft to be submitted to the U.N. Security Council this week aimed at breaking the deadlock over a resolution sending U.N. weapons inspectors back to Iraq. Negotiations on a resolution have been underway at the U.N. for six weeks.
The U.S. draft is the product a flurry of telephone diplomacy in recent days including a call by U.S. President George W. Bush to Mexican President Vicente Fox Monday, and multiple conversations between Secretary of State Colin Powell and French Foreign Minister Dominque de Villepin.
Mexico, one of the Security Council's 10 elected members, has been siding with permanent member France in resisting U.S. pressure for a resolution threatening Iraq with the use of force if it refuses to disarm.
At a briefing, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher offered no details of the U.S. draft, but he insisted it would not compromise the core principles for a resolution that the Bush administration has been pressing for all along.
"We adhere to our core position that there must be a clear statement of Iraq's failure to comply with its obligations, there has to be a tough inspection regime, and there have to be serious consequences in the event of new Iraqi violations," he said. "We want to achieve those in a new resolution. And we think that the stronger the resolution, the more likely it is that we might have some hope of Iraqi compliance and cooperation."
The administration began its quest for a new resolution with a September 12 U.N. address by President Bush in which he said the United Nations risks losing its political relevance if it failed to enforce its disarmament resolutions on Iraq. He also warned that the United States was prepared to act on its own if the U.N. failed.
U.S. officials have been frustrated by the slow pace of deliberations in the council. Spokesman Boucher said the administration, with its pending new draft, has gone a long way toward accommodating the concerns of other member countries, and that it is now time for the Security Council to act.
"We have taken into account the views we have heard. We think this effort has led to a narrowing of differences among council members. But we also think that it's time to decide," he said. "It's time to pass a resolution. It's time to get the views of the council out there. And it's time to tell Iraq that it needs to comply."
Bush administration officials have made no mention of a deadline for council action. But Secretary Powell has said he expects a conclusion of the negotiations by the end of this week, either with a vote on a U.S.-backed compromise resolution, or action on competing versions put up by the United States and France.
Mr. Powell is due to leave Washington next weekend to attend the 139-nation ministerial meeting of the Community of Democracies in the South Korean capital, Seoul.