Secretary of State Colin Powell discussed Iraq Wednesday with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who told reporters he thinks a compromise U.N. Security Council resolution for a U.S.-led, multilateral force in Iraq is within reach.
Mr. Papandreou's comments here reflect an emerging mood of optimism among both U.S. and European diplomats that despite the trans-Atlantic rift that preceded the Iraq war, a consensus is possible on a resolution giving the United Nations a role in peacekeeping and Iraq's political transition.
The Bush administration is hoping to bring more countries into peacekeeping operations by putting the force under a U.N. umbrella while keeping it under American command.
A U.S. draft would also raise the United Nations' profile in the formation of a new Iraqi government, though there are U.S.-European differences over, among other things, the timetable for Iraqi sovereignty.
Meeting reporters here after seeing Mr. Powell, the Greek foreign minister said there is now a positive spirit and a "genuine desire for a meeting of the minds" between European Union members and the United States over Iraq that should lead to a mutually-acceptable resolution "quite soon."
"There may have been differences over the war, and there were difference over the war; why and if it should have taken place," said Mr. Papandreou. "But there is a genuine desire to see a stable Iraq, a representative government in Iraq and an independent Iraq. So, working out a difficult transition of course, and the U.N. role, is what is now at the center of discussions. But the feeling that I got is that it is possible quite soon to get a resolution where everybody will be satisfied with, and hopefully will have practical import in helping stabilize Iraq."
On the political transition, the United States wants the Iraqi Governing Council to submit a timeline to the United Nations for the country's return to self rule.
But other Security Council members notably France and Russia are pushing for a speedy and more defined schedule for Iraqis to re-assume full sovereignty.
Secretary Powell will join Mr. Papandreou and other European Union foreign ministers in Stockholm Friday for memorial services for slain Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh and informal contacts on the Iraq resolution are possible there.
Diplomacy on Iraq is due to continue in Berlin at a weekend summit of the leaders of Germany, Britain and France, and it will move into high gear next week when heads of state including President Bush and foreign ministers from around the world gather for the opening of the U.N. General Assembly.