Security Council: Iraqi Interim Gov't Should Get 'Full Sovereignty'

The U.N. Security Council (search) has agreed that "full sovereignty" must be given to the Iraqi interim government on June 30 and a new resolution will give Iraqis "a decisive voice" on whether the multinational force remains in the country, a senior U.S. official said Friday.

As U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi (search) tries to get broad agreement among Iraqis on the makeup of the interim government, council members have been discussing the transfer of authority, including the extent of sovereignty and the continuation of the U.S.-led coalition force.

U.S. deputy ambassador James Cunningham (search) said the resolution will state clearly that the Iraqi caretaker government will assume complete sovereignty when the occupation of the country by the United States and Britain ends on June 30.

"The whole council is agreed that it's full sovereignty," Cunningham told The Associated Press. "There's no limitation on the sovereignty."

This became an issue when U.S. Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman said the interim government should have only limited sovereignty. His statement drew strong protests from Iraqi leaders and some governments, and Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) was forced to step in and state that the restoration of Iraqi sovereignty will be complete.

How long foreign troops remain in Iraq has also become an issue.

Powell has said if the interim government asks the U.S.-led coalition force to leave it will go, though he doesn't expect this to happen. France and Germany have said they want the new resolution to include a cutoff date for the multinational force, and let the Iraqi government that will be elected in January decide on any extension.

Cunningham told the AP the new resolution will not call for an indefinite extension of the multinational force, known as the MNF, but it won't propose a limit either.

It will make clear that the presence of a multinational force will be "kept under review and that the Iraqis will have a decisive voice," he said. "It will be up to the Iraqis to decide whether they want the MNF there or not, and we expect that they will want the MNF there."

Another outstanding issue is the relationship between the multinational force, the Iraqi army, and the interim Iraqi government.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage (search) told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday that Iraqi forces will work for an Iraqi general "in partnership" with coalition forces, under a unified command structure led by an American general.

The Iraqi troops will have the right to "opt out" of any military operation, he said.

The Germans and others want the resolution to include a consultative body to ensure cooperation between the interim government and the multinational force.

Cunningham told the council on Wednesday that the Iraqis should decide how much power the interim government will have during the consultations Brahimi is currently holding in Baghdad.

It is widely expected that the interim government will not make laws or enter into treaties or long-term economic or financial agreements, leaving these decisions for the elected government that will take over early next year, diplomats said.

But the resolution is expected to give the interim government control over Iraq's oil and gas revenues, which are now deposited in the Development Fund for Iraq along with previously frozen assets.

Many council members want the new Iraqi government to use the fund's revenue to finance the country's budget, and they want an international audit body to continue to maintain oversight of its operation, diplomats said.

The U.N. Security Council refused to authorize last year's U.S.-led war against Iraq, but in May 2003 it gave the United States and Britain as occupying powers a mandate to run the country.