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U.S. Pushes for Vote This Week on Iraq Sanctions

U.S. Pushes for Vote This Week on Iraq Sanctions

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The United States said Monday it wants a vote by the end of the week on a revised resolution to lift sanctions against Iraq and give the United Nations a clearly defined role in helping Iraqis establish a democratic government.

The proposal also would give the United States and Britain, as occupying powers, authority to run the country until Iraq has "an internationally recognized, representative government."

It was the third attempt by the United States to come up with wording acceptable to all 15 Security Council members amid calls by Russia, France and China for a stronger U.N. role in postwar Iraq.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte distributed copies of the new draft, which he said was final, to the Security Council at a closed-door meeting late Monday and told members to be prepared to vote from Wednesday onward.

He said it takes into account concerns raised by members about U.S. and British plans for postwar Iraq, though it was unclear whether the United States would go far enough to win the support of Russia, China and France.

None of those three permanent council members has talked about using their veto powers on the resolution, which was cosponsored by the United States, Britain and Spain. Instead, they would likely abstain if they couldn't support the resolution, a possibility raised Monday by French President Jacques Chirac, whose country led the opposition to the U.S.-led war.

"At the moment, the role given to the United Nations ... is insufficient," but France remains "convinced it is still possible to sensibly improve the text" to satisfy all sides, Chirac was quoted as saying by his spokeswoman, Catherine Colonna.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Sergey Lavrov said quite a number of questions "are being addressed and we certainly welcome the mood of the cosponsors to really try their best to respond to as many questions as they can." But he said some issues still need further clarification _ including how long the occupation will last.

By most counts, the United States already had the minimum nine "yes" votes needed to pass the resolution. But Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Thursday: "We want to get 15-0 in the Security Council."

The new text makes substantial changes to address the concern of many countries that felt the United Nations was being relegated to coordinating humanitarian aid and helping with reconstruction _ with a very limited political role.

The resolution asks Secretary-General Kofi Annan to appoint a special representative with "independent responsibilities" that include "working intensively" with the United States and Britain "to facilitate a process leading to an internationally recognized, representative government of Iraq."

The U.N. oil-for-food humanitarian program would be phased out over six months, instead of four months. France and Russia wanted more time to wind up contracts and hand over to Iraq the humanitarian program, which had been feeding 90 percent of Iraq's 24 million people before the war.

Iraq's oil revenue, which now goes into a U.N. escrow account, will go into a new Development Fund for Iraq that will be controlled by the United States and Britain, with international oversight.

The proposed resolution also leaves out a call for the council's explicit endorsement of U.S. and British occupation of Iraq for an initial 12 months. Some council members did not want to have the United Nations legitimize the results of a war that was opposed by a majority of members.

Instead, a new provision would have the council support the formation of an interim Iraqi government _ with the help of Britain and the United States "and working with" the U.N. special representative _ until a new government assumes the responsibilities of the occupying powers.

And unlike the previous two drafts, the new version mentions the issue of U.N. inspections to determine whether Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction have been destroyed as required by the Security Council resolution that imposed economic sanctions after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

The United States has refused to allow U.N. inspectors back and instead is deploying its own search teams.

The draft resolution "reaffirms that Iraq must meet its disarmament obligations," states that the United States and Britain will keep members informed of their disarmament efforts and says the council will discuss the mandates of the U.N. inspectors at some future time.

By submitting the new draft in a final form that can be put to a vote, Negroponte said, the United States is "signaling ... that we've gone just about as far as we can in meeting the concerns that have been expressed by other delegations."

(Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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