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Annan cloud on US draft

United Nations, Oct. 2 (Reuters): UN secretary-general Kofi Annan questioned today whether the new US-draft resolution on Iraq was enough to change attitudes towards the United Nations and other international bodies in the country.

Trying to win over sceptics, the US revised a UN Security Council resolution that emphasises a step-by-step transfer of power to Iraqis but gives no timetable for the end of the occupation. “We are studying it. We will have to determine whether it is a radical change from the past, or what it is,” Annan told reporters. “Obviously it’s not going in the direction I had recommended but I will still have to study it further.” After the August 19 bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad that killed 22 people, Annan told council ambassadors he wanted a new “radical” approach that would make it safe enough for UN staff to return, UN officials said. Only about 30 foreign staff out of more than 600 are still in the country.

The new US draft strengthens duties of the UN but does not give the world body an independent role in overseeing the transition to sovereignty as many wanted. The main purpose of the new resolution, as in earlier drafts, is to transform the military operation into a UN-authorised multinational force under American command.

This provision is aimed at attracting more contributions from nations wary of sending soldiers as part of an occupation force, although volunteers appear to be scarce.

France had wanted an immediate symbolic handover of sovereignty to Iraq while Russia has advocated that the UN be given a date to formulate a timetable. Russia’s UN ambassador, Sergei Lavrov said: “We believe that at this stage we should give the United Nations the leading role in the political process, to work with all Iraqis, to develop a timetable which should be clear, which would be leading to the full restoration of sovereignty and that this process could be supported by a multinational force.”

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