WASHINGTON – The U.S is working to get more U.N. member states involved in reconstruction and security missions in Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) said Thursday.
"We’re looking at, of course, reaffirming our determination to succeed in Iraq," Powell said at the United Nations headquarters in New York after meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search).
There are currently 30 nations contributing 22,000 troops in Iraq, Powell said, and about 14 other nations are talking with the coalition about troop contribution. More negotiations on those topics will continue, Powell said.
"That is an international contribution," Powell stressed.
The possibility of a new U.N. resolution to enlist more foreign troops to bolster the U.S-led military presence in Iraq was at the top of the agenda for international diplomats as the United Nations searched for ways to improve security in Iraq after this week's bombing of its Baghdad headquarters, which killed at least 23 people.
The idea surfaced last month after France, Germany and India refused a U.S. request to provide troops for the U.S.-led force in Iraq unless there was a broader U.N. mandate. These countries and others, including Turkey and Russia, have made clear they don't want their forces serving under U.S. command.
When asked if the United States would cede some control in Iraq to the United Nations, Powell said, "We have said all along that we want the U.N. to play a vital role. The issue of ceding authority is not an issue we have had to discuss today."
He said the countries that have sent troops to Iraq want U.S. command over the peacekeeping operation.
"You have to have control of a large military organization. That's what U.S. leadership brings to the coalition," he said.
Powell added that the U.S.-led occupation authority was authorized by U.N. resolutions: "We're on solid ground there."
Although U.N. officials put on a unified front to condemn Tuesday's bombing at the U.N. mission and urge support for a continued U.N. presence in the country, just who should be involved in Iraq is still a sensitive issue five months after the bitterly divided Security Council refused to back the U.S.-led war and instead favored more thorough weapons inspections.
Therefore, Annan said during the press conference with Powell Thursday, the U.S. and U.N. should not be considered interchangeable when it comes to Iraq.
"The United States has its policy and the United Nations has its policy," Annan said.
"Most people forget that the council did not vote to support the war in Iraq ... that the U.N., working with other member states, including the U.S., has been able to get quite a lot done in Iraq … there were divisions before the war, but we all realize that it is urgent to help bring peace to Iraq, bring peace to the region."
Saying the world has a "responsibility" to ensure Iraq is not thrown into chaos, "I think the stability of Iraq should be in everyone's interest," Annan added.
Despite the council's rocky past on the issue, Annan said, "I will not exclude" the possibility of more U.N. support in the country via another resolution.
Powell's comments about more troops seem to run counter to other U.S. officials' statements -- particularly those of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld -- that have indicated the United States doesn't need more troops on the ground in Iraq. Many have stressed that what's needed most is more help from Iraqi forces.
L. Paul Bremer (search), the American civil administrator in Iraq, and other Bush administration officials have said there are enough American troops there for now.
But Powell said his statements are directly in line with that of the Bush administration's plans for the country.
"I can assure you there is only one foreign policy, and that is the policy of the president," he stressed. "I am in sync with those policies."
Before the meeting with Annan, Powell campaigned in a series of phone consultations with European allies to enlist more foreign troops.
Britain already has a substantial presence in Iraq. The United States had until now resisted enlisting France and Germany because of their efforts to delay the war.
Some 131 U.S. troops have been killed since President Bush declared an end to major conflict on May 1. Bush says he is committed to ensuring Iraq's transition to democracy and bringing deposed dictator Saddam Hussein to justice.
Annan said Wednesday an international force was "under discussion. But I do not see U.N. blue helmets going into Iraq at this stage."
Powell said Thursday that U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte will work with Annan's staff and others on the Security Council to continue negotiations, which may include a new resolution.
However, a council diplomat said the United States was making the same proposal it made previously, which calls for more troops but without relinquishing any control over the military and security operation in Iraq -- a major sticking point.
"Everybody speaks about the need to improve security but, how can we achieve it?" asked Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador Gennady Gatilov. "I don't think that we have an immediate answer to this issue now."
"The first thing that comes to my mind" is that the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority should take "additional steps" to provide security, he said.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Wednesday that soliciting other troops at this point was only a matter of speculation.
Earlier Wednesday, Rumsfeld said there were no immediate plans to send additional U.S. troops to Iraq and that Iraqi security forces are the best bet for securing the country.
Rumsfeld said military commanders in Iraq told his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz (search), that there was no need for more troops.
"At the moment, the conclusion of the responsible military officials is that the force levels are where they should be," Rumsfeld said.
More than 140,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, performing hundreds of daily patrols as well as relief and reconstruction efforts. Their raids have turned up tons of military explosives and thousands of other weapons, captured 37 of the top 55 most wanted Iraqis (search) and killed Saddam's sons, Uday (search) and Qusay (search).
The American-led civilian administration in Iraq has 954 U.S. government, military and private contractor employees working to restore basic services such as electricity and water and to rebuild Iraq's economy.
Coalition forces have hired and trained more than 32,000 Iraqis as police, border guards and security guards. More than 8,000 Iraqi police are on the job in Baghdad.
Plans call for 12,000 troops in the new Iraqi army to be trained by the end of the year, augmented by more than 3,500 members of a new Iraqi civil defense force.
Fox News' Liza Porteus and The Associated Press contributed to this report.