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Iraq: Security Council Unanimously Approves U.S. Resolution

United Nations, 16 October 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The UN Security Council today unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at boosting international contributions for the security and reconstruction of Iraq. The final version of the draft added new language to the resolution strengthening the UN's role in guiding Iraq's political transition. It also makes clear that the U.S.-led multinational force will depart when a new government is formed, unless the new government wishes a continuation of the force. The vote comes after nearly seven weeks of negotiations, including a flurry of last-minute amendments added this week.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan hailed the vote, saying it is in the interest of the international community to build a stable, peaceful Iraq. "The outcome is a clear demonstration of the will of all the members of the Security Council to place the interest of the Iraqi people above all other considerations. Our common objective is to restore peace and stability to a sovereign, democratic, and independent Iraq as quickly as possible," Annan said.

The vote marked a victory for Washington's efforts to gain UN endorsement of its plan to progressively hand over power to Iraqis while encouraging support for peacekeeping and rebuilding in Iraq.

Three key council members -- France, Germany, and Russia -- modified their positions and decided to support the measure. They said they wanted to present a unified message of support for Iraq's rehabilitation.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said, "I think our three countries [France, Germany, and Russia) have been guided by the will of recreating the unity of the international community on Iraq."

But leaders of the three states said earlier today they could not contribute troops and funding to the U.S.-led efforts in Iraq under current conditions. Pakistan's ambassador said his country also could not contribute troops to the multinational force in Iraq.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says the administration is "very pleased" with the vote. At the same time, Powell said today he does not expect the resolution to directly result in more international troops in Iraq. He added that the U.S. administration believes that the resolution sets the stage for a donors conference next week in Madrid.

Earlier this week, Security Council members that had initially resisted involvement in postwar Iraq -- France, Russia, and Germany -- dropped their demands that the United States hand over control to an Iraqi provisional government within a few months. Secretary-General Annan has argued that a fast transfer of sovereignty, even before a constitution is written or elections held, could help stem the tide of guerrilla attacks in Iraq. But U.S. officials say that it is necessary to strengthen Iraqi governing structures before handing over too much power.