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Annan, UN Security Council Leaders Meet in Geneva to Discuss US Iraq Resolution - 2003-09-13


U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is meeting in Geneva with foreign ministers of the five veto-wielding Security Council members to try to determine future political and security arrangements in Iraq.

There is a flurry of last minute diplomacy in Geneva, amid sharp differences between the United States and Britain on the one hand and France, Russia and China on the other over a U.S. draft resolution calling for a multinational military force for Iraq under U.S. command.

The draft resolution also calls for the United Nations to work with the United States in creating a new constitution for Iraq and setting up elections in the country.

But French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin says the resolution should include a timetable that would put a provisional Iraqi government in place within one month. According to his plan, a draft constitution would follow by the end of the year and elections would take place by next spring.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell calls Mr. de Villepin's proposal "totally unrealistic." The United States says it wants the Iraqi Governing Council to set the timetable.

France and Russia also say they want to see the U.S. political role in Iraq diminished, with the United Nations taking more responsibility in restoring Iraqi sovereignty and organizing elections.

The United States and Britain argue that while the United Nations has a vital role to play in Iraq, it is not practical to turn over political authority immediately to the world body.

On Friday, U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan said he did not expect the foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the Security Council to discuss the text of the resolution, but to speak about the direction of Iraq's future.

"We are going to discuss the situation and the way forward," he said. "And I hope there can be some convergence that will facilitate discussion in New York with the full Council."

Joining the meetings are two key Iraqis from the U.S. picked interim authority, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and Adnan Pachachi, a leading member of the Governing Council and former Iraqi foreign minister prior to the Hussein regime.