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Annan's Criticism Increases Skepticism Towards US Draft Resolution on Iraq - 2003-10-03

A revised U.S. draft resolution on Iraq is drawing increasing skepticism at the United Nations, after Secretary-General Kofi Annan criticized it. Criticisms of the revised U.S. proposal for rebuilding Iraq mounted Friday, a day after Secretary General Kofi Annan said it had not moved in the direction he had recommended.

As Security Council members gathered to discuss the contents of the draft document, several expressed deep reservations about it. Chilean Ambassador Heraldo Munoz said Mr. Annan's objections had prompted a fundamental reassessment.

"He's very skeptical of the resolution, so we're going to take his input into serious account to try to get to a consensus," said Mr. Munoz. "But so far, I would say we are far from that point. And, I would have to take the necessary time to incorporate those doubts, legitimate doubts, that the secretary general has."

France and Russia, two skeptics with veto power at the Security Council, both expressed dissatisfaction with the new U.S. draft. Neither, however, raised the possibility of a veto. But a French spokesman said the document fails to take account of France's concerns.

Non-veto wielding council member Germany indicated the draft faces a long and bumpy road to passage. Germany's U.N. ambassador, Gunter Pleuger, suggested further revisions would be necessary.

"It was very good that yesterday we got a number of questions, whose answers we await at the next session of the Security Council, and will certainly clear up the matter, and might lead to changes in resolution," said Ambassador Pleuger. "But we are just at the beginning of the discussion."

Secretary-General Annan favors an approach in Iraq closer to the French, German and Russian plan. That includes a prompt handover of power to an Iraqi interim government that could then ask for broader international help.

The U.S. draft calls for writing a new constitution first, followed by elections. The U.S.-led coalition would remain in control, until a new government was elected.

After Friday's Security Council consultations, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said Washington is still willing to compromise.

"I think there's room for everyone," said Mr. Negroponte. "I think, there's room for doing it in a partnership, and there's room to do it in a collaborative way, and that's the spirit in which we would approach it."

Ambassador Negroponte said the diplomatic process of finding the best formula for rebuilding Iraq is still in progress. More negotiations will be held next week. He told reporters "You'll just have to stay tuned."