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Annan: UN Envoy May Name Interim Iraqi Government in Few Days - 2004-05-25

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said his special envoy to Iraq could be ready within days to name an interim government in Baghdad. Mr. Annan met privately with Security Council ambassadors to discuss possible amendments to a U.S. draft resolution on Iraq.

The Secretary General called the closed-door session to brief the Council on his special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi's efforts to form an interim Iraqi government.

France and Russia, both veto-wielding Council members, have indicated they would withhold support of any Iraq resolution until an interim government is appointed.

Secretary General Annan told reporters Tuesday Mr. Brahimi hopes to name that interim government -- including a president, two vice presidents and a prime minister -- within days. ?We had indicated that our target date was the end of May and obviously we are still working toward that date and I hope we will be able to meet the target,? Mr. Annan said.

Mr. Annan added that he considers introduction of the U.S. and British-sponsored resolution on Iraq as the beginning of a negotiating process.

A number of items in the draft have raised concerns in capitals of Security Council countries. One is a paragraph ensuring that U.S. armed forces would maintain military control over Iraq for at least another year and possibly longer.

Several ambassadors have questioned whether the draft would restore Iraqi sovereignty or simply maintain occupation under another name.

However, the only Arab member of the Security Council, Algerian envoy Abdullah Baali, said that he foresees eventual consensus when the resolution comes to a vote, possibly in early June.

?I do not expect any fight,? he said. ?All of us are in a constructive mood. We want the transition to succeed.?

The resolution is an important part of the Bush administration's plans for stabilizing Iraq and creating a democratic government there.

The White House said President Bush called French President Jacques Chirac Tuesday to discuss the measure. The two men were reported to have agreed on the need for further adjustments before the resolution is approved.

The Security Council has scheduled another round of consultations on the measure Wednesday.