A newly-revised U.S. draft resolution on Iraq has come in for harsh criticism on the day it was unveiled. Some of the sharpest barbs came from Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
The revised draft resolution attempts to satisfy some of the objections that killed the original draft submitted last month. Several times, the new document refers to handing over power to Iraqis as quickly as possible. It also outlines a greatly enhanced role for the United Nations.
But even before U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte unveiled it, Secretary-General Kofi Annan took the unusual step of expressing his displeasure with it. After reading it over, he told reporters, "Obviously, it's not going in the direction I had recommended".
Later in the day, after discussing the resolution over lunch with Security Council ambassadors, Mr. Annan said there was still no change in direction. He said the draft ignored his recommendation that sovereignty by handed over to Iraqis within months, followed by a longer time to draft a constitution.
"Obviously, that is not what is in the draft," said Mr. Annan. "This had been my suggestion in the sense that it may change the dynamic on the ground, in terms of the security situation, and send a message to the Iraqi people and also to the region."
French Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said his country remains unsatisfied with the new resolution. He told reporters the draft fails to address French wishes, leaving the United Nations in a secondary role.
Earlier, however, he had said France will not veto the resolution. French diplomats have said there is a strong desire to avoid the bitter divisions that split the Security Council before the Iraq war.
Also addressing reporters, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said he thinks the revised draft goes a long way toward incorporating critics' suggestions. He noted that the role of the United Nations has been strengthened. But he said the new draft clearly calls for the United States to command the multi-national force in Iraq. He added, "The concept from the outset has always been that it would be a United Nations authorized force as opposed to a United Nations directed force."
Ambassador Negroponte said that despite the criticisms, he is encouraged by what he sees as a convergence of ideas about how to proceed in Iraq. He said he is hoping for negotiating progress early next week, after the various Security Council countries have a chance to examine the proposal in more detail.