UNITED NATIONS – The United States and Britain made a last-minute addition Monday to their Iraq resolution that appeared to satisfy French and German demands to spell out Iraq's "security partnership" with U.S.-led forces.
U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte (search) said he expects the Security Council to approve the resolution on Tuesday afternoon, and council diplomats said the vote could be unanimous.
"We think this is an excellent resolution," Negroponte said. It marks "the fact that Iraq is entering into a new political phase, one where it is reasserting its full sovereignty."
France (search) wanted the resolution to state clearly that Iraq's interim government will have authority over its armed forces, that Iraqi forces can refuse to take part in operations by the multinational force, and that the new government could veto "sensitive offensive operations" by the U.S.-led force.
A revised draft sent to the 15-member Security Council on Monday -- the fourth in two weeks -- did not include any of these proposals.
But during closed-door consultations, the United States and Britain (search) revised the draft to address the relationship between the international force that will provide security and the government that will assume power on June 30.
The text now welcomes the exchange of letters between Iraq's new prime minister and Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) and their pledge to work together to reach agreement on "the full range fundamental security and policy issues, including policy on sensitive offensive operations."
It also notes "that Iraqi security forces are responsible to appropriate Iraqi ministers, that the government of Iraq has authority to commit Iraqi security forces to the multinational force to engage in operations with it."
While the new language doesn't mention an Iraqi veto, France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere (search) said "there are a lot of improvements" and "the text is going in the right direction now."
He said he would transmit the text to Paris and wait for instructions.
Germany's U.N. Ambassador Gunter Pleuger said the French amendment was "much clearer, but the new [U.S.] text reflects our concerns ... and we can live with that."
"I think we have reached a stage where the resolution has a very good text," he said. "My feeling is we have found a compromise."
Despite the calls by some council members for veto power, Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi didn't specifically ask for such power in his letter to the Security Council.
Chile's U.N. Ambassador Heraldo Munoz said the U.S.-British proposal was "a good compromise."
Approval of the resolution would take debate over its contents off the agenda at the Group of Eight summit. President Bush is hosting the summit, which starts Tuesday.
The United States also is eager for approval of the resolution as the June 30 deadline for the transfer of sovereignty approaches.
The early dispute over how long the multinational force will remain appears to have been resolved.
The resolution says the interim government will have authority to ask the force to leave, but Allawi indicated in a letter to Powell that the force will remain at least until an elected transitional government takes power early next year.
Powell signaled that the United States was prepared to compromise, telling reporters in Quito, Ecuador, that Washington believed that including the letters as an annex to the resolution was adequate -- but the administration was examining the suggestions from France and others.
The latest draft addressed a second issue raised by France, which wanted to ensure that any international assistance, including foreign troops, was in Iraq at the request of the interim government.
The new resolution asks U.N. member states and regional and international organizations "to contribute assistance to the multinational force, including military forces,"
It added language welcoming the interim government's commitment "to work towards a federal, democratic, pluralist and unified Iraq." It also reaffirmed the right of Iraqis to "exercise full authority and control over their financial and natural resources."
The Security Council's meeting began with statements from Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his special adviser, Lakhdar Brahimi, who helped select the interim government that will take power on June 30.
"This interim government will now have the task of bringing the country together, and of leading it effectively during the next seven months," Annan said.
Declaring that "Iraq is not a failed state," the secretary-general urged all countries, especially Iraq's neighbors, to respond generously to the interim government's request for assistance.
Brahimi told the council that the way the relationship between the interim government and the multinational force is managed "will greatly affect the credibility of the interim government in the eyes of their people."
"An equally important and urgent measure," he said, "is the grave issue of the prisoners detained in the notorious Abu Ghraib detention center and elsewhere." The abuse of Iraqi detainees by U.S. soldiers has focused a spotlight on this issue.
"It would greatly help the new government if this problem were to be completely solved even before June 30," Brahimi said.