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Details of UN Resolution on Troops in Iraq Remain Unclear - 2003-08-22

The United Nations Security Council is working on a possible new resolution to encourage nations to send troops to help secure Iraq. Preliminary discussions on the measure were held Thursday, two days after the U.N. Baghdad headquarters was attacked by a car bomb killing at least 22 people and injured many more.

The Security Council shared ideas about strengthening the United Nations role in Iraq's areas of security and economic and political development.

But details of the possible new British-and-U.S. proposals remain unclear and are not yet in writing.

Diplomats say they are consulting with their governments on the issue, but no date has been set for further council discussions.

The closed-door consultations followed a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary General Kofi Annan at United Nations headquarters.

Mr. Powell said at least 30 nations have already contributed 22,000 troops. But some nations have said that they require a stronger U.N. mandate in order to participate in Iraq. The U.S. secretary of state said the United States is pursuing a new measure to encourage other nations to contribute forces.

"We are looking at, of course, reaffirming our determination to succeed in Iraq," he said. "We are looking for language that might call on member states to do more, but President [Bush] has always felt that the United Nations has a vital role to play. He has said that repeatedly."

Mr. Powell offered condolences to the secretary-general for the loss of U.N. staff, including top U.N. envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, in Tuesday's bombing.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who is scheduled to meet with Mr. Annan on Friday, said the attack on the United Nations shows that terrorism is a war against the entire world. He added that he believed the blast aimed to damage the Iraqi people, but the United Nations must continue to play a crucial role in Iraq's reconstruction.

"It has been a profoundly important role, working with the Governing Council and the Coalition Provision Authority," he said. "What we are now doing is looking at further ways in which the international community may be able to strengthen their support for this key task of rebuilding Iraq for the benefit of the people of Iraq."

But France, Germany and Russia, which opposed the Iraq war, raised objections in the council, calling for the British and U.S.-led Coalition to give up some control in Iraq in order for the council to adopt a new resolution. Diplomats called for a wider U.N. role in Iraq's political arena, greater transparency in Iraq's finances, the possible return of United Nations weapons inspectors, and a timetable for the end of the occupation.

Mexico plans to bring a draft resolution to a vote on Monday to strengthen protection of United Nations humanitarian personnel in Iraq.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has made it clear that the United Nations will not send U.N. peacekeepers, known as blue helmets, to Iraq.