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France, Germany Snub U.S. Plan

The leaders of Germany and France criticized a U.S. draft resolution seeking international troops and money for Iraq, saying it falls short by not granting responsibility to Iraqis or a large enough role to the United Nations.

But officials from both countries said the U.S. proposal was a good basis for negotiations, and Russia signaled it could send peacekeepers to Iraq, depending on the final resolution. Secretary of State Colin Powell said the United States welcomes "constructive input" on the draft put forward a day earlier, which he said addresses France and Germany's concerns.

The U.S. proposal seeks troops and money for Iraq's postwar reconstruction but declines to relinquish political or military control of the country.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac insisted Washington had to go further.

"We are naturally ready to study it in the most positive manner," Chirac said. "But we are quite far removed from what we believe is the priority objective, which is the transfer of political responsibility to an Iraqi government as quickly as possible," Chirac told reporters.

Schroeder said the draft resolution had brought "movement" into the diplomacy. But he added: "I agree with the president when he says: Not dynamic enough, not sufficient."

"Now is the time the to look forward, and that can only happen if the United Nations can take responsibility for the political process," Schroeder said.

Chirac said he believed any vote on a U.S. resolution was still some time away. "We will certainly have the occasion to present modification and amendments. That's where we stand now."

Still, Germany's U.N. Ambassador Gunter Pleuger said the U.S. draft was a good basis for negotiations, a view shared by many other Security Council members.

"We will see in the negotiations in the next days how far we can get," Pleuger said. "It's a good working basis but it certainly can be improved."

French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said the U.S. draft was "a base to work with," but added that as it stands, "it is not sufficient for France."

Speaking at a news conference in Strasbourg, Alliot-Marie said it "does not seem to meet the conditions that (U.N. Secretary-General) Kofi Annan himself set down so the United Nations can intervene."

In Washington, Powell underlined that the resolution calls on the Iraqis to help work out a timetable for transfering power to an Iraqi government.

"I think the resolution is drafted in a way that deals with the concerns that leaders such as President Chirac and Chancellor Schroeder have raised in the past," he said. "We'd be more than happy to listen to their suggestions."

France is one of five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, a position that gives it veto power over Council actions.

The draft resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, would transform the U.S.-led military force in Iraq into a U.N.-authorized multinational force under a unified command. Powell said Wednesday that an American would remain at the top of such a command.

Key provisions in the U.S. draft would:

  • Call on U.N. member states to help train and equip an Iraqi police force.
  • Invite the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council to cooperate with the United Nations and U.S. officials in Baghdad to produce "a timetable and program for the drafting of a new constitution for Iraq and for the holding of democratic elections."

  • Ask the U.N. representative in Iraq to facilitate a "national dialogue and consensus building" to promote the political transition.

  • Ask all U.N. member states and international and regional organizations "to accelerate the provision of substantial financial contributions to support the Iraqi reconstruction effort" and appeal to international financial institutions to provide loans and other assistance.
  • Call on countries in the region "to prevent the transit of terrorists, arms for terrorists, and financing that would support terrorists."

    Russia sent its first signal that it might consider sending peacekeepers to Iraq as part of an international force.

    "It all depends on a specific resolution. I wouldn't exclude it outright," Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told the Interfax news agency.

    "Everything depends on the unity of opinion in the U.N. Security Council; on to what degree the United Nations will really be able to influence the development of the situation in Iraq," he said.

    And in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said the U.S. offer to share Iraq's postwar reconstruction was in line with the objectives of China, which has "actively participated" in the effort to increase U.N. participation.

    "We have all along stood for the early restoration of stability throughout Iraq," Kong said. "We have stood for the important growth of the United Nations in this endeavor." He did not provide details.

    Chile's U.N. Ambassador Heraldo Munoz called the U.S. proposal "an adequate basis for negotiations."

    Many council nations stressed that the degree of power the United States will be prepared to relinquish to the United Nations will be key.

    Mexico's U.N. Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, whose country opposed the war, said the thrust of a new resolution must be "the restoration of the full sovereignty of Iraqis." The Mexican position is that reconstruction in Iraq "is a job for the United Nations."

    Council diplomats said they would like the resolution to be adopted before ministers gather for the meeting of the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 23.

    But some European countries are likely to resist if the United States continues to try to hold on to all the lucrative and influential ventures, such as oil contracts and the political rebuilding process, according to some council diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    The postwar operation is costing the United States about $3.9 billion a month and has strained the American military, which has some 140,000 troops stationed in Iraq.