U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has arrived in Geneva for a critical meeting with foreign ministers of the other four permanent U.N. Security Council member countries on Iraq. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called the Saturday meeting to try to avoid a confrontation in the council over the Bush administration's draft resolution on Iraq.
The United States wants to bring more countries into Iraq peacekeeping by putting troops under a U.N. umbrella. But it insists that the force be under American command. And it is resisting calls by France and others that the United Nations have the lead role in determining the country's future. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says that would ignore what has already been achieved in Iraq by the United States and its coalition partners:
"We want it to be a constructive discussion, one that starts from the reality of the situation: which is that there was a war, and there's a coalition, and there's an Iraqi Governing Council, who are gradually taking over more and more of Iraqi sovereignty and exercising more and more responsibility," he said.
In a French television interview released Friday, Secretary Powell said no one wants to turn sovereignty back to the Iraqi people as fast as the United States does. But he said the country must first have elections, and a workable government, parliament and constitution.