Disagreement at U.N. Over Iraq Resolution

A revised U.N. resolution on transferring sovereignty to Iraq's interim government only needs "fine-tuning," the U.S. ambassador said, but key Security Council (search) members, including France, Russia and China, insisted on major changes.

Several countries say they want the new resolution to affirm Iraq's sovereignty and give the country's new leaders final say over the multinational force that will stay after the hand-over of power.

But in an interview Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) said Iraq will not be given a veto over U.S. troops. The 138,000 U.S. troops will remain under U.S. command, Powell said.

"There could be a situation where we have to act and there may be a disagreement," Powell told Middle East Broadcasting.

Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari was scheduled to address the Security Council Wednesday afternoon and many council members said his view of the resolution will be very important.

"The Iraqi government has to have full authority on the Iraqi forces," said Ambassador Abdallah Baali from Algeria, the only Arab member on the council.

"The consent of the Iraqi government to actions undertaken by the MNF (multinational force), major operations by the MNF, is of paramount importance," he said.

Ambassador John Negroponte (search) said late Wednesday that he is confident the resolution will be adopted "in reasonably short order."

Other nations on the 15-member council, especially France, are in no rush. They want to see how Iraqis react to the new team that will lead the country for seven months after the June 30 hand-over of power.

They also want to hear from the new leaders and U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi (search), who announced the new government Tuesday.

Council members will get a closed-door briefing Thursday from Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search) on Brahimi's mission, then hold an open meeting to hear from Zebari.

Zebari said he has instructions from the new interim government to discuss the text with the 15 council members, and he planned a number of meetings.

"This is a very important resolution for us," Zebari said. "Definitely we need to have our own input into this."

He is expected to press for full sovereignty for the interim government in the resolution, but he gave no other details on what the new leaders want.

The new draft addresses two issues raised by council members: It would give the new government control of the Iraqi army and police, and would end the mandate for a multinational force by January 2006. The original draft did not address the issue of control of Iraqi security forces or include an end to the force's mandate.

French President Jacques Chirac said Wednesday still needs improvements, "notably to affirm and confirm the full sovereignty of the Iraqi government," especially regarding the military.

China's U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya said his country called last week for the mandate to expire after elections in January 2005, when the transitional government takes power -- and Beijing still wants that date in the resolution.

Many council nations -- including China, France, Chile and Algeria -- want the resolution to spell out the details of the relationship between the interim government and the U.S.-led multinational force.

Algeria's U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Baali said earlier that a final resolution must clearly give the Iraqis final say over the multinational force.

Powell said in the interview that while the Iraqi government is sovereign, circumstances could arise where U.S. troops might have to protect themselves.

"Hopefully, it will always be with the agreement and understanding of the Iraqi interim government," he said. "I don't expect that we will run into any problems."

Philippines Ambassador Lauro Baja, the current council president, said he has left every afternoon in the next two weeks free for discussions on the Iraq resolution, if necessary.

"We think that the co-sponsors made steps forward, but still we have problems," said Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador, Alexander Konuzin. "There are a number of issues which should be discussed and positions are not that close yet."

German Ambassador Gunter Pleuger said the draft "is a better basis for discussion than the previous one ... but there are still things that can be improved."

Konuzin said Moscow also wants interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and other ministers to come to the United Nations to discuss their "vision" about the political process and possible international assistance.