U.S. Wants Quick UN Vote On Iraq

French President Jacques Chirac speaks at the American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer as President Bush listens.
CBS
The United States and Britain are pushing for a quick vote on a new Iraq resolution, but France and Germany are backing an amendment to ensure that Iraq's new interim government can veto major operations by the U.S.-led multinational force.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said a revised draft — the fourth in two weeks — will be introduced on Monday. The United States is hoping to finalize the text Monday night, "with the idea of voting on it on Tuesday afternoon or Tuesday evening," he said.

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.

"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.

"But on the weekend, differences surfaced over the command of multinational forces: France proposed language late Sunday that would give Iraq authority to decide on sensitive offensive operations while the Bush administration has proposed a compromise which has U.S. troops under U.S. command but allows the new Iraqi government to ask foreign military forces to leave," Falk added.

"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."

In Moscow, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov said Monday that negotiations over the weekend had improved the resolution, but that portions must be discussed further.

The Security Council held a special meeting late Sunday to discuss letters from the new Iraqi government and the United States making clear that sovereignty will be transferred and outlining a new military partnership.

The letters will be included in the resolution as annexes, but France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere 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."

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, Iraq's new interim prime minister, Iyad 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."

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 in order 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 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. British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said he was confident that the letters did "the trick."

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

The latest draft says the interim government will have authority to ask the force to leave. But Allawi indicated in his letter that the force will remain at least until an elected transitional government takes power early next year.

The current draft resolution also calls for U.N. member states and regional and international organizations to provide troops for the multinational force. But France proposed a second amendment Sunday that would require any such assistance to be requested by the interim Iraqi government.