BRUSSELS, Belgium – European Union leaders pushed Friday for a new U.N. Security Council (search) resolution to expand the United Nations' role in Iraq ahead of the U.S. handover of sovereignty, but they left the details vague.
The "Big Three" leaders of Germany, Britain and France, meanwhile, revealed they would hold their own get-together on homeland security after the adoption of new EU anti-terrorism measures.
The Iraq declaration adopted at the end of a two-day summit did not directly link a new U.N. resolution to a willingness to supply peacekeepers for the Iraq mission.
It stated that EU leaders "look forward to the U.N. playing a vital and growing role endorsed by the U.N. Security Council in the run-up to transition and beyond."
Diplomats said discussions had only begun on details and there were still differences on how much bigger the U.N. role should be.
But they noted the "balance had shifted a bit" in the EU since the election defeat of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's (search) conservative government, one of Washington's staunchest European allies.
Spain's socialist prime minister-elect, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (search), says he will pull his country's 1,300 soldiers out of Iraq by June 30 unless the United Nations takes control of the postwar occupation.
Polish Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz (search), whose country has 2,400 soldiers in Iraq, said his government also supports a "deeper" U.N. involvement in Iraq.
"If there is any chance of getting a new resolution offering a mandate to foreign military personnel ... in Iraq, that would be great of course," he said.
Across town at NATO headquarters, U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns (search) said he did not want to speculate on what the new Spanish government might do once it takes office in mid-April. But he said Poland and "a number of our NATO allies" had given assurances since the Spanish election "that they will be keeping their forces in Iraq."
Other European nations with soldiers or police officers in Iraq are Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
Zapatero's position has shifted Spain into alignment with Germany and France, which strongly opposed the war in Iraq and have refused to send troops to help the occupation without a stronger U.N. role.
French President Jacques Chirac (search) said after the summit that he still believes "only a government that is both representative and able, and has the active encouragement of the United Nations, can set Iraqis back on the road to stability and peace."
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (search) announced that he, Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair would hold a second three-way meeting in Britain to discuss law and order issues at a date to be determined.
The three met in Berlin a month ago to discuss economic issues, provoking anger from other EU leaders that the Big Three were trying to run roughshod over the rest.
But the trio's main proposal from February — installing a new "super commissioner" responsible for boosting industry and jobs at EU headquarters — received scant attention Friday when the EU leaders turned their attention to the bloc's sluggish economies.
Four years after setting a goal to make the EU the most competitive economic bloc in the world by 2010, the leaders acknowledged they are falling behind, with persistently below-par growth and unemployment stuck above 8 percent.