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US, Britain Seek Support for New Political Structure in Iraq - 2004-06-02

One day after new Iraqi interim government was named, the United States and Britain moved to secure international support for the new setup in Baghdad. However, council members want clearer assurances about the relationship of the government to U.S. forces in Iraq.

Talk of Iraq centered on compromise over conflict Wednesday, as the United States sought to win endorsement for a new political and governmental structure in Baghdad.

The new interim government, which was announced Tuesday, settled down to work and held its first formal meeting, with security concerns topping the agenda.

Even as the new government met, U.S. forces clashed with militiamen loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Kufa and Baghdad. Two car bombs also exploded in the capital Wednesday, killing at least six people and injuring more than 30 others.

In the face of objections from several quarters, U.N. Special Envoy to Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi - a key figure in assembling the new administration - defended the interim government's composition.

"The overall makeup is reflective of a sometimes extremely difficult negotiation process, which had realistic compromises," he said. "I very much hope they will see that even though this government may not reflect everything they had hoped for, it was the best outcome that was possible at this time."

The U.S. occupying authority is turning full sovereignty over to the interim government July 1. It will hold power until elections in early 2005.

Speaking at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, President Bush said the United States and Britain are seeking international backing for a new U.N. resolution endorsing the interim government.

"America and Great Britain are working with the United Nations Security Council and Iraq's new leaders on a resolution that will endorse the sovereign government of Iraq, and urge other nations to actively support it," he said.

But key Security Council members - including France, Germany, Russia, and China - indicated they are still not satisfied with the current draft resolution. In particular they are concerned that the draft does not spell out in detail the relationship between the interim government and U.S. forces remaining in Iraq.

After a meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Brussels, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said he believes the United States has addressed the concerns of most Security Council members.

"We believe that we are able, first of all in the resolution, to accommodate the requests and views of most of the 15 members of the Security Council," he said.

Mr. Armitage predicted what he called "relatively smooth sailing" on the resolution in upcoming Security Council deliberations.