Published September 03, 2003
WASHINGTON – The Bush administration is circulating a new draft resolution within the U.N. Security Council (search) asking for the U.N. to play a wider role in forming the new government in Iraq and requesting more troops and aid from other countries.
Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) told reporters Wednesday that President Bush gave him the go-ahead to put a resolution together that asks for help from the international community but maintains that the United States will play a "dominant role" in overseeing postwar Iraq efforts.
"Certainly, the United States will continue to play a dominant role," Powell said, referring to the U.S. occupation led by L. Paul Bremer and the large U.S. presence already in the country. "But a dominant role doesn't mean the only role. There are many roles to be played," he said.
The United States hopes that expanding the U.N. role will attract badly needed troop contributions and garner more money to help rebuild the country.
The resolution will be based on the previous Resolution 1483, which encourages nations to add to peacekeeping and stability efforts in Iraq, and Resolution 1500, which welcomed the creation of the Governing Council (search).
Key elements of the new resolution, Powell said, include inviting the newly-installed Iraqi Governing Council to submit a plan and timetable for political evolution, adherence to a constitution, establishment of government and free elections.
"We will demonstrate in Iraq that democracy can work in that part of the world," Powell said.
A second key part of the resolution will authorize a multinational force to take part in peacekeeping, security and reconstruction efforts, Powell said. This force would be under the command of the United States -- a major sticking points during recent weeks of speculation as to whether Washington would put forth such a proposal.
Other elements include expanding the role of the United Nations in reconstruction efforts and helping to set up an electoral system. It also encourages financial and other institutions around the world to contribute funds to carry out such efforts.
Noting that 30 countries already have some presence in Iraq and another 10 are in the process of sending troops and/or aid, Powell said "we would invite additional nations to participate in such multinational efforts."
He said Wednesday's handover of 90 percent of the south-central region of Iraq to Polish-commanded forces was a prime example of how the United States is committed to involving as many global partners as possible.
"I think this shows the strength of the international coalition," Powell said. "We hope more countries will join in due course."
Powell so far has spoken about the draft to British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. He plans on making more phone calls to other heads of state later Wednesday and into Thursday to garner support for the resolution.
France, Russia and Germany opposed the U.S.-led war against Iraq in the first place, but their support of this current phase is critical. Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China make up the permanent five on the U.N. Security Council that have veto power.
Annan has ruled out a U.N. peacekeeping force in the country, but has sought to turn the military operation into a U.N.-authorized multinational force.
Powell said Wednesday's swearing in of the Governing Council was also solid proof that U.S.-led efforts to set up a democratic Iraq were working.
"The political process is moving along and well," Powell said. "This is all consistent with our goal of meeting our responsibility in Iraq and doing it in a way that turns political responsibility over to Iraqis as fast as that can be made to happen."
In light of the recent spate of what are being considered terrorist attacks against U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, the Iraqi police force, religious sites and so-called "soft targets," many Iraqis have called for having more security duties placed in their hands.
Five months after the United States was forced to drop a U.N. resolution seeking authority to attack Iraq, administration officials say they do not want a repeat of that brawl.
They say they expect the United States to engage in quiet, behind-the-scenes negotiations on the resolution's language.
Diplomats say putting the U.N. in charge of reconstruction will make it easier to garner contributions from nations that opposed the war, notably France and Germany. Belgium said last week that it may be willing to donate money if the United Nations was "playing a central role" in reconstruction.
France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said the international community needs to move quickly to establish an internationally recognized Iraqi government. France and Russia have called for a timetable for a constitution, elections and the restoration of Iraq's sovereignty.
"We think now it's a matter of urgency, and the transfer of responsibility to the Iraqis is something now which is a priority," de La Sabliere said Tuesday at U.N. headquarters in New York. "On the whole subject, we have to move fast because the situation is deteriorating."
Mexico's U.N. Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser said, "The commitment of the United Nations has to be reinforced and reconceived. The authority in Iraq should be the U.N., as opposed to the occupying powers."
The administration is optimistic it can attract peacekeeping troops at least from India, Pakistan and Turkey by placing the operation under the U.N. flag.
Bulgaria's U.N. Ambassador Stefan Tafrov, another council member whose country has already provided troops to the U.S.-led force, said a new resolution should provide "as central as possible" a role for the United Nations.
"What is clear is that all members of the Security Council and the international community at large need a stabilized Iraq. It's in the interest of everybody, the Iraqi people to begin with," he said.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said he's "pleased" the administration is seeking another U.N. resolution, but said Bush needs to be "more clear and more forceful" in explaining what resources and time commitment will be required in rebuilding Iraq.
"The president needs to lay out exactly what this entails to the American people ... the administration was premature in declaring victory and in estimating the cost [of rebuilding]," Daschle said.
The Congressional Budget Office has released an analysis stating that the occupation, which relies on the creation of two new Army divisions, could cost up to an estimated $29 billion annually.
Fox News' Julie Asher and Liza Porteus and The Associated Press contributed to this report.