UNITED NATIONS -- A new US resolution calls for a strengthened UN role in rebuilding Iraq, but provides no timetable for a handover of authority to Iraqis, according to a draft of the document obtained yesterday.
The new measure, circulated by US officials, underscores that the American-led occupation is temporary and urges Iraqis to determine a date for a transfer of power. "The day when Iraqis govern themselves must come quickly," it says.
The United States wasted no time after it took over the presidency of the UN Security Council yesterday in calling a meeting to distribute the revised text to the other four veto-wielding council nations -- Russia, China, France and Britain.
"As far as time is concerned, we would like to move expeditiously on it," US Ambassador John Negroponte said. "We'd also like to see the resolution in place, if possible, well in advance of the upcoming donors conference" for Iraq. The event is set for Oct. 24 in Madrid.
The US presidency was a stroke of good timing as Washington campaigns for approval of the new resolution, aimed at getting more countries to contribute troops and money to Iraq.
The new draft -- like the previous draft -- would transform the US-led coalition force into a multinational force. The United States, as leader of the force, would report to the Security Council at least every six months.
The new draft spells out that the force will ensure "necessary conditions" for adopting a constitution and holding elections as well as protect UN offices, the US-appointed Iraqi interim government and other key institutions.
It reiterates the call to the 191 UN member states to contribute military forces and to increase financial aid. It makes a similar appeal to international financial institutions.
The US decision to give the United Nations a larger role in Iraq's reconstruction, and to make clear that the United States had no intention of a long-term occupation, was designed to attract the support of France, Germany, Russia, and other skeptical countries in the Security Council.
There was no immediate reaction, though one council diplomat said the sense was that Russia and China thought the resolution was in the right direction.
France and Germany have called for a quick transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis. Paris says it should be possible by the end of the year. Many countries have also asked for an expanded UN role in overseeing Iraq's political transformation to a democracy, including elections.
Some potential troop contributors have refused to commit soldiers unless a multinational force is deployed under a UN umbrella. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell discussed the new resolution yesterday by telephone with Jack Straw, Britain's foreign secretary, and foreign ministers Ana Palacio of Spain, Joschka Fischer of Germany, Igor Ivanov of Russia, and Dominique de Villepin of France.