EU Leaders Welcome U.N. Iraq Resolution

European leaders on Friday welcomed the Security Council's unanimous support for the U.S.-backed resolution on rebuilding Iraq and urged that Iraqis be given self-rule according to "a realistic timetable."

Ending a two-day summit in Brussels, Belgium, European Union (search) leaders also pledged to ensure a "positive outcome" of next week's conference of U.N. members states on Iraq, which seeks money for postwar reconstruction. Conference host Spain announced Friday it would give $300 million.

Meanwhile, the world's largest Islamic organization, meeting in Malaysia, urged a faster transition to full sovereignty for Iraq but toned down an earlier plan to urge a greater role for the United Nations.

The Islamic and European statements came a day after the passage of the U.N. resolution, which calls for financial donations and a multinational force in Iraq to help ease the burden of U.S.-led troops already there.

The resolution also confirms Iraqi sovereignty and the temporary nature of the U.S.-led occupation; expands the U.N. role in the political process; and asks the U.S.-picked Iraqi Governing Council (search) to set a timetable by Dec. 15 for adopting a constitution and holding elections.

The resolution does not, however, set a timetable for returning self-rule to Iraq, a significant flaw for several nations — chiefly France, Germany and Russia, who also opposed the U.S.-led war to oust Saddam Hussein.

The three issued a joint statement calling the resolution "a step in the right direction" but saying it should have gone further to give the United Nations a bigger role in Iraq's political transition and in quickly restoring self-rule. Therefore, they said, they had no plans to give money or troops.

In comments published Friday, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said his country backed the U.N. resolution hoping that international unity — and any movement toward the swift transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis — could help ease Mideast tensions.

"In the face of the spiral of violence and terrorism ... in the context of extreme tension throughout the Middle East, it was important to clearly make the unity of the international community prevail," de Villepin was quoted as saying in the French newspaper Le Monde.

President Vladimir Putin criticized the resolution for not giving the United Nations a central role in postwar reconstruction and reiterated that Russia would not be sending peacekeepers.

"This resolution increases the role and importance of the United Nations ... but after all it does not yet create conditions for full-fledged U.N. participation," Putin said in an interview with Al-Jazeera television during a visit to Malaysia as an observer at the Islamic summit.

Yet other nations moved to provide the assistance Washington hopes will help bring security to war-battered Iraq and ease the burden on American-led forces there.

Spain — also a backer of the U.S.-led war to oust Saddam Hussein — said Friday it will provide $300 million for Iraqi rebuilding through 2007.

Finance Minister Rodrigo Rato said $15 billion to $20 billion would be a reasonable goal for the Madrid meeting of 151 U.N. member states.

Speaking after Thursday's vote, Secretary of State Colin Powell said in Washington that he was "more optimistic now" about pledges at the Oct. 23-24 meeting. But he cautioned against seeing the resolution "as opening the door to troops."

India on Friday welcomed the resolution but said it could make no immediate commitment about sending force to help with peacekeeping.

In Putrajaya, the Malaysian capital, Iraq dominated discussions at the meeting of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (search).

In their final communique, leaders stressed the right of the Iraqi people to "determine their own political future, to have full control over its natural resources and to establish a broad-based and fully representative government."

The conference also stressed "the need to accelerate the restoration of the full sovereignty of Iraq."

However, after a dispute with the Iraqi Governing Council, the meeting did not urge a bigger political role for the United Nations. The U.S.-picked council said it would rather see a new Iraqi government take over from the Americans rather than an interim U.N.-led administration.