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Security Council Discusses Resolution on Wider International Troop Presence in Iraq - 2003-08-21

Talks were held at the United Nations Thursday on a new Security Council resolution that would encourage more nations to send troops to secure Iraq. In the wake of Tuesday's terrorist bombing at the U.N. mission in Baghdad, the Bush administration is looking to draft a measure that will convince countries that opposed the war in Iraq, to now send troops to help rebuild the country.

Nearly 30 countries have already sent forces to Iraq. But France and Germany, which opposed the U.S. led war, as well as India and some Middle East nations, have rejected U.S. requests for military commitments without the United Nations first approving their deployments.

The Bush administration initially opposed the idea of seeking U.N. support for an expanded military coalition, concerned granting a U.N. mandate for military operations in Iraq might interfere with the overall U.S. command.

But the White House has now reversed course. Secretary of State Colin Powell went to the United Nations Thursday to lobby countries that had opposed the war to send troops and aid, while continuing to insist any new U.N. resolution require troops fall under American command.

"We're looking at of course, reaffirming our determination to succeed in Iraq," he said. "We're looking forward to language that might call on member states to do more."

About 140,000 American troops are currently in Iraq. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said he sees no need at this time to send more. But after conferring with General John Abizaid, the commander of all U.S. forces in the region, Mr. Rumsfeld said there is no way of predicting whether more American forces will, in the end, have to be deployed.

"We intend to see this through to success and the president has indicated that whatever level of U.S. forces is appropriate, that the general will have that level," he said.

In Iraq, rescue crews continue the search for bodies in the bombed hotel that served as the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, while about a third of the U.N. staff in Iraq is leaving the country. This, at a time when General Abizaid calls terrorism, especially terrorists entering Iraq from other countries, the number one security threat in Iraq right now.

"They are clearly a problem for us because of the sophistication of their attacks and because of what I would call their tactics to go after Iraqis", he said. "Clearly, they are going after Iraqis that are cooperating with us, they are going after soft targets of the international community."

It's a situation which Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says Iraq's neighbors may have a hand in. "They clearly are not being stopped by the countries from which they are coming," he said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military has announced the capture of one of the most wanted men in Iraq, Ali Hassan al-Majid, the former Iraqi official nicknamed Chemical Ali for his role in the gassing of Iraqi Kurds in 1988. Ali Hassan al-Majid is also a cousin of Saddam Hussein and was number five on the coalition's list of most wanted Iraqi fugitives.