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UN: Security Council Unanimously Approves Resolution On Iraq

Yesterday, the UN Security Council approved the U.S. resolution on Iraq. France, Germany, and Russia, supported the resolution, but only for the sake of unity. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has said that the resolution is not a "door-opener" for more troop contributions.

United Nations, 17 October 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The UN Security Council yesterday unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at boosting international contributions for the security and reconstruction of Iraq.

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.

But mixed signals surrounding the vote clouded the prospects for an increase in new contributions.

A number of key Security Council members expressed concern that the resolution failed to set a clear timetable for transferring sovereignty to Iraqis. They also wished to see a more defined political role for the United Nations in guiding that transition.

But UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who supported a rapid transfer of sovereignty, praised the council vote as a signal of unity on behalf of the welfare of Iraqis.

"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.

Prior to the vote France, Germany, and Russia -- which had opposed the U.S.-led war to oust Saddam Hussein -- modified their positions and decided to support the measure for the sake of consensus.

But leaders of the three states said earlier today they could not contribute troops and additional 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.

Germany's UN ambassador, Gunter Pleuger, said after the vote that a number of key elements were missing from the resolution.

"We miss the clear signal that a transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis will be accelerated. The role of the United Nations and in particular of the secretary-general could have been strengthened even more. The council, too, is incorporated rather sparingly in the development," Pleuger said.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell welcomed the vote and again stressed that the resolution provides a mechanism for Iraqis to plan their own political transition.

The resolution "invites" the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council to provide the Security Council by 15 December 2003 with a timeline for drafting a constitution and holding elections.

Powell said the resolution sets the stage for a crucial donor meeting next week in Madrid. So far, pledges have fallen far short of the tens of billions of dollars Iraq is estimated to need for reconstruction in the coming years.

Powell urged France, Russia, and Germany to demonstrate material support for Iraq.

"I would hope that if they reflect on the needs of the Iraqi people they would give serious consideration to doing what they can do to support the Iraqi people. This isn't a matter of supporting the United States or the coalition. This is a matter of helping people who are in need. And I hope all of the nations in light of this new resolution will reexamine their approach to [providing financial contributions to the Iraqi reconstruction]," Powell said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan confirmed today that it will not contribute peacekeeping troops to the multinational force in Iraq, as hoped for by Washington.

The resolution confers UN authority on the existing force deployed in Iraq and it will remain under U.S. command. Pakistan's UN ambassador, Munir Akram, told the Security Council that his country could not take part in the force under the present arrangement.

"The multinational force which was to be created should have a separate and distinct identity from the occupation forces and its deployment should be the result of an invitation from the Iraqi people and it should take place with the concurrence of states of the region," Akram said.

Powell said he did not see the resolution as a "door-opener" for troop contributions. He said he could not estimate how many new troops may be added to the multinational force in the short term.