U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says the full United Nations Security Council is to meet Monday to discuss a U.S. proposal to include more United Nations members in the reconstruction of Iraq. The secretary made the remark after meetings in Iraq with senior officials of the Iraqi interim government and the U.S. led provisional authority there.
Mr. Powell told reporters in Baghdad he hopes the new U.S. proposals will give the United Nations once again a strong political mandate in Iraq. "The U.N. has a vital role to play. We want to involve it as much as possible. And that's why we're working so hard for this resolution," he said.
Mr. Powell came to Iraq Sunday from Geneva, where he discussed the U.S. proposal with foreign ministers of the other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. He acknowledged differences remain over the proposal, but said he believes there has been a fairly positive response so far from most members.
France has proposed returning sovereignty to Iraqi leaders next month and holding elections early next year. Mr. Powell said this timetable is too fast. He said the only way to guarantee that a stable and democratic Iraq emerges in the future is through a deliberate process that builds up government institutions and establishes a constitution. "The worst thing that could happen is for us to push this process too quickly, before the capacity for governance is there and the basis for legitimacy is there, and see it fail. We are not occupiers," he said. "We have come under a legal term having to do with occupation under international law, but we came as liberators."
Secretary Powell acknowledged there is still instability in Iraq, but he added that parts of the country, particularly in the north and the south, are secure, and Iraqi security forces are increasing in numbers and becoming more and more organized.
An hour before the secretary arrived, one U.S. soldier was killed and three were wounded in an attack on their convoy near Fallujah. The town is in mourning for nine Iraqi police and one Jordanian guard who were killed by U.S. soldiers Friday in a "friendly fire" incident.