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U.N. Unanimously Adopts Iraq Resolution

U.N. Unanimously Adopts Iraq Resolution

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- In a diplomatic victory for the United States, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution Thursday aimed at attracting more troops and money to stabilize Iraq and putting it on the road to independence.

The vote bolstered U.S. efforts to win credibility for its rebuilding effort in Iraq and to ease the burden of American forces there. But at a summit in Brussels, European leaders ruled out any immediate commitments of financial or military aid.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell called the vote "a great achievement."

"We have come together to help the Iraqi people and put all of our differences of the past in the past," Powell said in Washington.

Powell said the vote sets the stage for an Iraq donors conference next week in Madrid and would help U.S. officials raise money and make it easier for countries to provide peacekeepers. He declined to "put any numbers" only how many would be volunteered.

Still, he acknowledged opposition by some countries to sending forces.

"I don't see this vote as opening the door to troops," he said.

Powell said he did not expect troops from Russia, Germany or France but that he hoped they would be helpful.

The resolution, he said, "will assist those who are interested in providing troops by giving this broader U.N. mandate for those troops and putting them under multinational force designation."

U.S. officials had been concerned that after six weeks of intense diplomatic campaigning, the resolution might get only the minimum nine "yes" votes needed for adoption.

In a dramatic shift, the United States won last-minute backing from France, Germany and Russia, the main opponents to the U.S.-led war to oust Saddam Hussein.

"We agreed that the resolution is really an important step in the right direction," Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said after the conference call with presidents Jacques Chirac of France and Vladimir Putin of Russia. "Many things have been included from what we proposed. This led us ... to jointly agree to the resolution."

However, the resolution was not expected to translate into immediate funds and troops.

European countries are "very far from being able to commit themselves financially or militarily" to the reconstruction of Iraq, said Catherine Colanna, a spokeswoman for Chirac.

Washington also won backing from China and Pakistan, and finally -- and most surprisingly -- from Syria, the only Arab nation on the Security Council and a staunch opponent of the U.S.-led war.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the vote showed the commitment of the Security Council "to place the interests of the Iraqi people above all other considerations.

"It is critical to the Iraqi people, the region and the entire international community that we succeed in reaching the goal of an Iraq at peace with itself and its neighbors."

In Iraq, the U.S.-appointed Governing Council welcomed the resolution as a step toward bringing stability to the war-battered country and ending violence against the American-led occupation.

"We welcome pumping more funds into Iraq from the donor states and the other states in order to reconstruct the Iraqi economy and combat unemployment," said Mouwafak al-Rabii. "This can be one of the successful means to dry out the cores of terror."

Germany, France and Russia had announced their decision to vote "yes" after a 45-minute conversation earlier Thursday, in a bid to bring international solidarity to the reconstruction effort.

Putin, who was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as a special observer at an Islamic summit, said the leaders had agreed on a common position, but he didn't give details.

The United States had focused on Russia in its search for votes after it rejected the French-Russian-German demand for a timetable to restore Iraq's sovereignty. Moscow had taken a more moderate position than France and Germany.

Council diplomats said Washington asked what Moscow wanted and then submitted three amendments Wednesday morning. Less than 12 hours later, the amendments were accepted "99 percent by the sponsors" and included in a fifth draft of the resolution, said Russia's U.N. Ambassador Sergey Lavrov.

The amendments gave Annan greater scope to participate in drafting a new Iraqi constitution and the political transition, and would state for the first time that the mandate of U.S.-led troops would expire when an Iraqi government is elected.

Facing rising costs and casualties in Iraq, the Bush administration initially concentrated on getting more countries to provide troops and money to help stabilize and rebuild Iraq.

France, Russia and Germany changed the agenda to the quick restoration of Iraq's sovereignty, however, forcing the United States to make clear it has no intention of remaining an occupying power. The resolution states that "the day when Iraqis govern themselves must come quickly."

The United States and Britain never wavered in their assessment that sovereignty can't be relinquished until Iraq drafts a new constitution and holds elections.

They agreed, however, to include new provisions urging the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority "to return governing responsibilities and authorities to the people of Iraq as soon as practicable" and calling on the Iraqi Governing Council to provide the Security Council with a timetable for drafting a new constitution and holding elections by Dec. 15.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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