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US Draft Resolution on Iraq in Limbo - 2003-10-07

A U.S. draft resolution on rebuilding Iraq hangs in limbo, following an inconclusive U.N. Security Council meeting on its fate. American diplomats are fighting an uphill battle to win support for the proposal.

A three-hour, closed-door Security Council session Monday yielded little more than an agreement to continue talking. Opposition to Washington's proposal gained momentum last week, after U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said it was going in the wrong direction.

As he emerged from the meeting, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte left no doubt that progress toward a consensus was going slowly. "Today was the day other delegations made comments. I answered questions that had been raised at the last session," he said. "And, we agreed, this is the time for everybody to take a deep pause, for everybody to digest what had been said, and see how it affected our thinking."

Ambassador Negroponte indicated tough going lies ahead. He suggested it would be good to get a resolution passed before a donors conference on Iraq later this month in Madrid.

Several countries, including France and Russia, are said to be pushing for substantial changes. German Ambassador Gunter Pleuger said the U.S. draft is being looked at as a starting point. "Many delegations said this is a good basis for discussion, and we have also to take into account views of the secretary genera," he said. "And a few delegations have made very concrete proposals and amendments." He said there was general agreement on the need for council unanimity, to give the resolution strength.

But Syrian Ambassador Faisal Mekdad made clear such unanimity remains a long way off. He said Damascus shares Secretary General Annan's concern that any U.N.-authorized Multi-National Force, or MNF, avoid becoming 'an appendix' to the U.S.-led occupation force. "We need the MNF under the leadership of the U.N. to lead Iraq to its independence, not to support the occupation forces."

Diplomats say Monday's session yielded little compromise on either side. They say at this point, the resolution appears not to have the nine votes necessary for adoption.