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Tony Blair Defends Coalition Policy on Iraqi Oil


British Prime Minister Tony Blair Wednesday defended U.S. and British plans for how to manage Iraqi oil sales, which are contained in the new U.N. Security Council draft resolution on Iraq.

Facing critics in parliament who say the United Nations should take the lead role in managing Iraq's vast oil wealth until a new government is in place, Mr. Blair rejected claims that Washington and London would wield too much power if the current draft resolution regarding the administration of oil revenues is passed.

"They should go into an independent fund with an advisory international board that will have the U.N. representative on it, representatives of the IMF and the World Bank and that that development fund money should be used exclusively for the people of Iraq," he said. "The idea in those circumstances, [that] it means that the U.S. and the British are getting their hands on Iraqi oil is completely fatuous."

That clearly is not enough for some British politicians. On Monday for instance, Mr. Blair's Overseas Development Secretary resigned over the issue of how to manage post-war Iraq. The former minister, Clare Short, said the U.N. role would simply not be large enough. But the prime minister believes the Security Council draft resolution is a workable compromise.

"It provides for a vital role for the U.N. but a vital role not in the sense of the U.N. governing the coalition or the coalition governing the U.N., but the two working in partnership together," explained Mr. Blair.

Prime Minister Blair is under increasing criticism by British politicians, including some in his own Labor party, who say he follows U.S. policy on Iraq too closely, and should pay more attention to British and European views.