U.N. Council Members Want Iraqi Leaders' Input

Key Security Council (search) members said Wednesday they still are not satisfied with a revised U.N. resolution on Iraq and want more changes and ideas from its interim leaders and U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi (search).

Russia and Germany added their concerns to those expressed earlier by China, France, Algeria and Chile.

The United States and Britain circulated the revised blueprint Tuesday on the end of their occupation and hand-over of sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government June 30, addressing 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.

While many council members welcomed the improvements in the resolution, it was clear that Washington and London would have to make further changes to get approval of all 15 council nations.

French President Jacques Chirac (search) said Wednesday that the revised resolution was "a good basis for discussion" but still needs improvements, "notably to affirm and confirm the full sovereignty of the Iraqi government," especially regarding the military.

"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."

On Monday, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder raised concerns about the resolution in a phone call with President Bush, the German leader's spokesman Bela Anda said Wednesday in Berlin. Schroeder said that "to ensure the credibility of the interim government, modifications, or perhaps corrections are needed," he said.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said he believed Washington had addressed most of the international community's concerns.

"We believe that we are able to ... accommodate the requests and the views of most of the 15 members of the Security Council," Armitage said after meeting European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Brussels.

China, Algeria, Chile, France and others said the relationship between the multinational force and the interim government isn't spelled out clearly enough in the revised draft.

Algerian Ambassador Abdallah Baali said the final resolution must clearly give Iraqis final say over the multinational force, or MNF.

"We still need to have language that would say that the Iraqi government's point of view will prevail over the MNF in case of major military operations," he said.

Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya said his country called last week for the mandate of the multinational force to expire after elections in January 2005, when the transitional government takes power, and he said that's the date China still wants in the resolution.

The revised draft says the mandate for the multinational force will end with the installation of a government elected under a constitution to be drafted later this year. That installation isn't expected until December 2005 or January 2006.

Wang also said the restoration of "full sovereignty has not been fully reflected" in the text. That view was echoed by French Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, who said the resolution should list the areas in which the interim government will exercise full sovereignty.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari was headed to New York to press for full sovereignty, and he was expected to meet the council Thursday.

Brahimi, who helped put together the interim government, was heading to New York, where he is likely to attend a retreat for Security Council members Friday and Saturday, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

The United States and Britain said they want a vote on the resolution as soon as possible, but France and Russia said that in addition to hearing from Brahimi and the interim leaders, they want to assess Iraqi reaction to the interim government.