The United States says it expects to distribute a revised draft resolution to U.N. Security Council members by the end of this week that would give the U.N. a broader role in peacekeeping and the political transition in Iraq. U.S. officials hope for adoption of the measure before the end of October.
Administration officials have been refining the proposed resolution based on diplomatic soundings by Secretary of State Colin Powell last week at the United Nations, and they say they hope to have the new draft ready for distribution to council members as early as Thursday or Friday.
Mindful of pressure from France and others for a speedy return to Iraqi self-rule, the State Department says the new draft will reflect the desire to see a "sense of momentum" in the political process in Baghdad.
But it is not expected to mention the six-month target date for a new Iraqi constitution outlined by Mr. Powell last week in a newspaper interview and subsequent news conference at the United Nations.
Some key members of the Iraqi Governing Council have said that given the fundamental issues at stake, the drafting of a constitution could take considerably longer than six months.
At a Congressional hearing Tuesday, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said Mr. Powell was not trying to set a deadline but to lay out a "reasonable time period" for the process, and to spur serious thinking about the matter by Iraqi leaders. "The reason he did that is to try to give a certain sense of urgency, to make Iraqis sit down and think seriously about it, and not just continue endless arguments. But he didn't intend to sort of put himself in a box of exactly six months and after that it's a big failure. But it's the sense of urgency that we want to inject in this for Iraqis to take control of their future," he said.
Mr. Armitage said the U.S. officials envision the entire process the drafting of a constitution, elections and the hand over of full authority from the U.S.-led coalition to a new Iraqi government lasting a year to a year-and-a-half.
At a briefing later, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the Bush administration does not want coalition forces to remain in Iraq any longer than absolutely necessary, and "that no one is more eager to see the process completed successfully" than the United States.