After Negotiations, U.N. Resolution Vote Draws Closer

The Bush administration plans to offer a "new draft resolution" on Iraq to the U.N. Security Council early next week, and officials hope that it will pass as early as Thursday.

A key administration official said Friday that a "final resolution" will reflect some opponents' concerns, but will not weaken the U.S. goal of getting weapons of mass destruction out of Saddam Hussein's hands.

Diplomats have been negotiating over the U.N. Iraq resolutions for seven weeks.

The United States and Britain have had difficulty getting Russia and France,and to some extent China, to agree to their draft proposal. All five nations hold veto votes on the 15-member Security Council.

The French and Russians have agreed to some language they had formerly resisted, including declaring Iraq in "material breach" of its obligations under 16 earlier U.N. Security Council resolutions.

However, Russia and France had objected to the threat of "serious consequences," diplomatic code for military action, if Iraq failed to disarm.

U.S. officials believe that without the threat, Baghdad would not comply. U.S. officials say they also fear new language may hold hidden triggers.

Russia and France, both of which have extensive trade dealings with Iraq, would prefer to defer the threat until Baghdad clearly defies the United Nations.

Out on the midterm campaign trail drumming up support for Republican candidates, President Bush was rallying against one person who doesn't appear on any American ballot: Saddam Hussein.

"In my judgment and in the judgment of a lot of people, Saddam Hussein is a threat ... and a threat to our allies," Bush has been saying, with some variation, at every campaign event.

The president has been reiterating that he hopes Saddam can be dealt with peacefully, and emphasizes the efforts to work through the United Nations. But he also continually reserves the option of dispensing with U.N. support if the Security Council does not pass a tough resolution.

"The United Nations will fulfill its obligation to peace; Saddam Hussein will disarm," Bush said Thursday. "If not for the sake of peace, for the sake of security of the homeland, the United States will lead a mighty coalition and disarm Saddam Hussein."

The delaying of the Iraq resolution vote effectively pushes back Bush's decision on unilateral action, a potentially explosive domestic issue, to after the midterm elections.

Over the telephone Thursday, Secretary of State Colin Powell discussed the U.S. position with Foreign Ministers Igor Ivanov of Russia and Dominique de Villepin of France.

Ivanov told Russia's Interfax news agency on Friday that the United Nations is closer to an agreement on a resolution, but Russia still insists the resolution not give anyone the right to use force.

Russia's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Gennady Gatilov, repeated that assertion Wednesday when he said his government still had "quite a lot of problems" with the U.S.-British draft.

U.S. officials have been spinning the story, saying that the United States has "growing confidence" that a majority of Security Council members will vote for the resolution on Iraq.

After the next draft is submitted, diplomats will consult their capitals on whether to continue negotiating or proceed to a vote, and what that vote should be.

Fox News' Jim Angle and the Associated Press contributed to this report.