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Since 1st March, 1999
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Annan slams new US draft
- France, Russia, Germany propose amendments to speed up self-rule

United Nations, Oct. 14 (Reuters): UN secretary-general Kofi Annan criticised today the new US-draft resolution on Iraq for making few significant changes as France, Russia and Germany submitted amendments to speed up Iraqi self-rule.

Annan spoke to reporters as the US told Security Council envoys to be ready to vote this week on the draft, which proposes a multinational force and a December 15 date for 25-member Iraqi governing council to devise a timetable toward self rule, a concession to critics.

France, Germany and Russia, in six amendments obtained by Reuters, want the governing council, along with the UN and the US-led occupation, to develop a more specific schedule for when Iraqis would take power. China supports the amendments, diplomats said.

But the new proposals do not specifically insist on a date within five months for an interim Iraq government to take over before any elections as these four countries originally proposed. And the amendments do not give the UN a central role.

Diplomats said they are aimed at making sure the concept of a provision government is not excluded in the future.

Annan, whose remarks have been crucial in influencing Security Council members, said that as long as the occupation continues “the resistance will grow.” He made clear he had no plans to send UN staff back to Iraq immediately and said this was recognised in the draft.

“Obviously, the current resolution does not represent a major shift in the thinking of the coalition,” Annan said, adding, however, that some of his suggestions were accepted. US officials had been pushing for a vote tomorrow but Russia’s comments indicated Moscow as well as France and Germany would continue negotiations.

“We asked members of the Security Council to be ready to vote tomorrow,” said Richard Grenell, spokesman for US ambassador John Negroponte. But he acknowledged this could slip until later in the week.

Most council diplomats believe the Bush administration has the minimum nine votes of the 15 votes needed to get the resolution adopted.

But abstentions by major countries, such as France, Russia, China and Germany, would send a signal of divisions in the international community and lessen the impact of any measure.

Britain and Spain are co-sponsoring the draft.

“It is not a question of finding words to stitch words together. We need to think of the impact that the resolution and our action will have on the ground because that is the test of the effectiveness of an Iraqi resolution,” Annan said in hoping the draft would get broad support.

In Moscow, deputy foreign minister Yuri Fedotov told the Itar-Tass news agency: “It is very important to set down these provisions in the new resolution and Russia intends to achieve that.

“As long as they are not taken into consideration, there will be no progress and we will continue to feel the negative consequences of the Iraqi crisis.”

In a gesture to critics, the US-drafted resolution also says the Iraqi governing council “will embody the sovereignty of the state of Iraq.”

It says the governing council has to draw up a timetable for a constitution and elections by December 15, without specifying a precise date for a handover of power. However, it still asks the UN Security Council to endorse the occupation.

Asked about this provision, Annan said: “It’s a nice phrase but the resolution also says that the occupying power is the authority and is a government.”

The UN in the US draft would play a “vital” but not a central political role in guiding Iraqis toward self-rule.

However, the draft excludes an immediate demand for the UN.

“I will implement it (the UN role) but of course I have constraints, which they have recognised in the resolution,” Annan said today.

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