U.S. Denies Iraq Military Veto

French President Jacques Chirac speaks at the American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer as President Bush listens.
CBS
The United States and Britain on Monday submitted a new draft of their U.N. resolution on Iraq that promises "close coordination" between multinational forces and the interim Iraqi government -- but not an Iraqi veto over military action.

The revised draft — the fourth in two weeks — was sent to the 15-member U.N. Security Council, and the United States hoped for a vote on Tuesday, a council diplomat said.

The revised document keeps a paragraph recognizing "the importance of the consent of the sovereign government of Iraq for the presence of the multinational force and of close coordination between the multinational force and that government," according to a copy obtained by The Associated Press.

France and Germany are backing an amendment to insure that Iraq's new interim government can veto major operations by the U.S.-led multinational force.

The revised draft reiterated that the multinational force "shall have the authority to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq.

But it added that the force would operate under the arrangements spelled out in the letters from the new Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and the United States.

The letters, which made clear that sovereignty will be transferred and outlined a new military partnership, were included in the resolution as annexes.

But France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere had said it was very important to also include a reference in the resolution. He proposed an amendment spelling out the interim government's authority over Iraqi forces and stating that it's agreement "will be required on sensitive offensive operations."

"If the good will generated in Europe by the President over the weekend is extended to find a solution, then everyone walks away with a diplomatic success with the U.N. playing the lead role in a sovereign Iraq," said CBS News Foreign Affairs Analyst Pamela Falk.

"A lot of credibility is resting on the optimistic forecasts that members of the Bush Administration foreign policy have made about agreement at the U.N.," Falk said, "but the language of the French proposal runs counter to that."

The new resolution also welcomed the interim government's commitment to "work towards a federal, democratic, pluralist and unified Iraq, in which there is full respect for political and human rights." Chile had called for a reference to human rights.

Further, it reaffirmed the right of the Iraqis "freely to determine their own political future and to exercise full authority and control over their financial and natural resources."

Approval of the resolution would take debate over its contents off the agenda at the Group of Eight summit which President Bush is hosting, starting on Tuesday.

The Security Council was scheduled to hold closed consultations after an open briefing Monday afternoon by U.N. Iraq envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who helped put together the interim government.

France and Germany — backed by Chile, Algeria and other Security Council members — had called for changes in the text, especially on the critical relationship between the new government and the multinational force that will remain in Iraq after the United States and Britain hand over sovereignty on June 30.

In Moscow, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov told the Interfax news agency earlier that he hoped it could be put to a vote "within the next few days."

The Security Council held a special meeting late Sunday to discuss the letters from the new Iraqi government and the United States.

While some council members have been calling for the new government to have a veto over operations such as the recent siege of Fallujah by coalition forces, Allawi, didn't specifically ask for such power in his letter to the Security Council.

Allawi said new security bodies will enable the multinational force and the Iraqi government "to reach agreement on the full range of fundamental security and policy issues, including policy on sensitive offensive operations."

"Since these are sensitive issues for a number of sovereign governments, including Iraq and the United States, they need to be resolved in the framework of a mutual understanding on our strategic partnership," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell also pledged in a letter on behalf of the multinational force, or MNF, that it would work with the Iraqis "to reach agreement on the full range of fundamental security and policy issues, including policy on sensitive offensive operations."

Security Council members have been stressing the importance of adopting a unanimous resolution to send a united message of international support to the Iraqi people and the new government. A French diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said if the United States and Britain agree to the French amendment, Paris will vote "yes" on the resolution.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte said the council was moving toward consensus but he indicated U.S. opposition to the French amendment, saying the negative connotation of a veto doesn't reflect the spirit of partnership in the resolution. British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said he was confident that the letters did "the trick."

In his letter, Allawi told the council that his government will retain sole control of the country's armed forces and work in "full partnership" with the multinational force to coordinate joint military operations and security policy through a variety of new bodies.

Powell said U.S.-led troops "will coordinate with Iraqi security forces at all levels."

Allawi said a new ministerial committee will be formed to set Iraqi security policy, and the commander of the multinational force and others will be asked to participate "as appropriate."

Iraqi and multinational forces — at the national, regional and local levels — will also consult regularly on their activities, "will share intelligence, and will refer issues up the respective chains of command where necessary," he said.

Powell said the multinational force will continue to undertake combat operations against "forces seeking to influence Iraq's political future through violence." He said this will include "internment where this is necessary for imperative reasons of security."

Despite the dispute over major military operations, the issue of how long the multinational force will remain appears to have been resolved.