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UN to Vote on Temporary Control of Iraq by U.S.-led Coalition - 2003-05-21


The United States has called for a UN Security Council vote Thursday on a resolution to lift sanctions against Iraq. The resolution - co-sponsored by Britain and Spain - would leave the U.S.-led coalition in overall control of Iraq until an internationally recognized interim Iraqi government takes office.

Meanwhile, the top U.S. administrator in Iraq says a conference to establish one will be delayed for about a month. Carol Pearson reports on these and other developments in Iraq.

Paul Bremer, the top U.S. administrator in Iraq says a conference to pick an interim government will be held in July. He stressed he wants to form a group that is truly representative of Iraq’s population.

“We believe that ultimately the Iraqi government must represent Iraqis from all over the country – all geographic regions. They must represent both Sunni, Shia, Christian, men and women. So there’s some work to be done by us and by other Iraqis to identify a truly representative group. That’s the process we’re in now. We’re moving as quickly as we can and I think we’ll be able to move forward on that in the weeks ahead.”

Mr. Bremer attended the opening ceremony for a prison in Baghdad Tuesday. It will be ready to hold prisoners this week.

“This is the first of what we hope will be several places where we can detain the criminals and the violent people that we are in the process of arresting and detaining around Baghdad in our continuing very vigorous efforts to restore law and order to this wonderful city.”

British and American troops patrol the streets in an effort to prevent looting and violent crime.

A curfew has been imposed, but some people risk arrest to spend time outdoors because the heat makes it too oppressive to be out during the day.

Coalition troops have also increased their efforts to curb the sale of illegal arms. However, a black market for weapons and ammunition is thriving in Baghdad.

A Kalashnikov machine gun sells for about 150 American dollars. A pistol goes for around 200 dollars.

Coalition forces may soon be getting some help.

NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson says NATO has agreed to provide technical support to help Poland lead a multinational peacekeeping force in an area between Baghdad and Basra.

“We are not talking about a NATO presence in Iraq. We are talking purely and simply about NATO help to Poland, which is intending to be in Iraq and intending to fulfill a role in the stabilization force.”

As for humanitarian aid, the United Nations could begin distributing food by June first.

Ramiro Lopes da Silva, the United Nations coordinator for Iraq, said he would welcome the lifting of the sanctions by the Security Council. Once sanctions are lifted, Iraqis will be able to tap into their oil wealth to continue the process of rebuilding their country.