The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
France, Russia oppose draft

Paris/Moscow, Oct. 3 (Reuters): France and Russia today joined UN boss Kofi Annan in criticising a US draft resolution aimed at coaxing more troops and cash from reluctant allies to help rebuild Iraq.

“Our first impression is...this revised project does not incorporate the change in approach that we are advocating,” said French foreign ministry spokesperson Herve Ladsous.

France wants a provisional Iraqi government set up as soon as possible, gradually receiving executive powers in a process overseen by the UN.

Russian President Vladimir Putin today said the US draft was unsatisfactory, but held out hope for a compromise.

“So far we are dissatisfied with the resolution proposed by our US partners,” he said in answer to a question at a forum in Moscow.

The comments by France and Russia, both of whom hold a veto on the UN Security Council, followed criticism of US policy in postwar Iraq by UN Secretary-General Annan yesterday.

Annan made it clear to Security Council ambassadors that the UN could not play a proper political role in Iraq under terms wanted by the US, UN officials and diplomats said.

While not refusing outright to participate in the political process, Annan said the US draft envisaged an impossible UN role.

It was one of the few times during his five years in the job that Annan had opposed Washington so bluntly on a crucial issue.

Before President George W. Bush launched a war in March to topple former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, France and Russia mounted a campaign to keep him from securing UN backing. US-led forces, primarily American and British, went to war without a UN resolution in support of their action and ousted Saddam in April.

Post-war occupation forces have faced persistent guerrilla ambushes and bomb attacks which have killed more than 80 US soldiers since major combat ended on May 1.

Bomb attacks have killed Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim, whose Shia party was in a US-sponsored governing council, and more than 80 of his followers, as well as top UN official Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 other people in Baghdad in August. Thousands of Iraqis thronged Najaf today for a ceremony mourning Hakim.

Postwar turmoil pushed Bush back to the United Nations to seek troops and cash to help control and rebuild the oil-state of 26 million people but he has faced concerted opposition.

Ladsous said France’s criticism of the US approach “is shared by a good number of countries, including those in the Security Council”. He reiterated France did not intend to use its veto to block a new US resolution.

A leading member of Iraq’s governing council said today the country’s new constitution should be drawn up by an elected committee — a move that could drag out the process far longer than Washington wants.

Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, who represents an influential Shia party on the US-appointed governing council, said once the constitution was written it should be approved by a national referendum before being adopted.

His comments were another blow for US efforts to secure a resolution giving the UN a broader mandate in Iraq, with France and Germany, who opposed the war, wanting a quick handover of power to Iraqis.

Email This Page