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Iraq: Powell Says U.S. Resolution Will Propose 'Vital' Role For UN

The United States is set to introduce a new UN draft resolution on lifting sanctions against Iraq. That could go some way in uniting a divided Security Council, RFE/RL reports from the United Nations.

United Nations, 8 May 2003 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. officials say they will soon introduce a draft resolution to the UN Security Council that calls for lifting sanctions against Iraq and envisions a "vital" role for the United Nations in rebuilding the country.

U.S. President George W. Bush said American diplomats had reported a positive change in the atmosphere of the council and that a new resolution would be introduced "soon."

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said after meeting UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan late yesterday that he expected the measure to be introduced this week. He told reporters at UN headquarters that the resolution aims to "unite the international community" in reconstructing Iraq.

"I think it's a resolution that everybody will be able to rally around and it is also a resolution that will give a role to the secretary-general to play and the United Nations to play, to play the vital role that President Bush has spoken of," Powell said.

Bush has repeatedly said the United Nations will have a role in Iraq's reconstruction. But many have interpreted his statements to mean the UN would be limited to a humanitarian role.

Powell declined to provide details of the resolution. Russia and France, two of the main council opponents to the U.S.-led war against Iraq, have proposed alternate plans.

Russia's own draft resolution calls for Annan to run the oil-for-food program, including taking control of Iraq's petroleum sales and development of its oil fields until an internationally recognized Iraqi government assumes power.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov yesterday also reiterated Moscow's position that sanctions can only be lifted after the UN certifies Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction, in line with council resolutions.

France has proposed suspending the sanctions, phasing out the oil-for-food program and having U.S. and UN inspectors work together to certify Iraq's disarmament.

Powell said American diplomats are working with the 14 other council members to unite behind the U.S. draft resolution.

"Whatever happened in the past is in the past," Powell said. "We are not now talking about a matter of war. We're talking about a matter of peace. We're talking about a matter of hope. We're talking about helping the Iraqi people. And this resolution has that as its singular purpose, to help the Iraqi people to obtain a better life for themselves and their children."

A number of council members are pressing for a UN role in Iraq's political transformation to confer legitimacy on a new government. U.S. officials have said they support the role of a UN coordinator to help with reconstruction and the attempts to set up an Iraqi authority. The U.S. draft is expected to provide details on such a role.

Earlier yesterday, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said Annan was awaiting a specific recommendation from the Security Council before acting on a coordinator for Iraq.

"The job description should come from the council. It should flow from council deliberations and maybe even a resolution and the council would have to approve the appointment," Eckhard said.

The council has temporarily placed the oil-for-food program, which feeds 90 percent of the Iraqi population, under Annan's control. But that program expires on 3 June.

Reuters news agency yesterday quoted an unnamed State Department official as saying the proposed resolution would phase out the oil-for-food program rather than eliminate it completely on that date. Lifting the sanctions would enable the United States, which has controlled Iraq since toppling Hussein's regime last month, to use Iraq's oil riches to pay for its reconstruction.