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US-Sponsored Iraq Draft Resolution's Fate Uncertain - 2003-10-09

Washington's ambassador to the United Nations reports no progress on efforts to win Security Council approval of a draft resolution on Iraq. International efforts to raise money for rebuilding Iraq are hinging on the resolution's fate.

In the face of fierce opposition from Secretary-General Kofi Annan and several Security Council members, U.S. ambassador John Negroponte says the U.S. resolution on rebuilding Iraq is stalled.

"There are no developments with regard to the draft resolution in the sense that we have no counsel, no consultations scheduled at the moment," he said. "The last meeting we had was earlier this week. We're still in a pause period while capitals, including our own, consider next steps."

News reports indicate several EU countries are quietly pressuring the United States to revise the draft to accept a speedy transfer of sovereignty in Iraq. There is also pressure to give the United Nations a greater role in the transition process.

But Ambassador Negroponte told reporters Thursday he sees no need for any substantial compromise. "We have got a text on the table that we think is a good text," he said. "We think it addresses the principle concerns that are out there, and if we are to put a text to a vote, I wouldn't expect any radical departures or changes from what you've already seen."

Mr. Negroponte's comments came amid reports that unless Washington is willing to compromise, some EU countries might favor a postponement of an international donors conference on Iraq. That conference is set to begin October 23 in Madrid.

When asked whether Secretary-General Kofi Annan favors such a delay, his spokeswoman Hua Jiang was evasive.

"Well, the secretary-general hasn't lately spoken in public of his views of this donor meeting, but as you know," she said, "he's working very hard to get a consensus among the Security Council members on the resolution, which will have an impact on this donor conference."

U.S. diplomats acknowledge there is little hope that Security Council members France and Germany will support the draft resolution as it is. Other members have indicated they share Secretary-General Annan's reservations.

Officials in Washington have indicated they may abandon the resolution if it appears headed for defeat. A State Department spokesman told reporters that while they would prefer to see a resolution pass, the option to proceed without one is being considered.