Baghdad, Sept. 18 (Reuters): President George W. Bush today said he did not expect a quick UN resolution backing US pleas for more foreign troops and money for Iraq, as the toll on American occupation forces continued to rise.
Bush said at his Camp David retreat outside Washington he did not expect a Security Council agreement before he attends the UN General Assembly in New York next week.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said when asked on prospects for a new resolution on Iraq before the meeting.
But Bush’s national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, said Washington saw the meeting as a chance to bridge differences, after the bitter debate before the US-led invasion in March.
Two of the strongest opponents of the war, France and Germany, expressed fears of a worsening security situation in Iraq, and called for a handover of political power to Iraqis.
At a meeting in Berlin, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said they could help train Iraqi soldiers and police, but France also insisted Washington hand power to an Iraqi government in “months, not years”.
On the training offer, Chirac said: “If the Chancellor confirms this position, France will take the same position.”
Emphasising the urgent need to bring stability to Iraq, the US military said two American soldiers were wounded today when their convoy was attacked with gunfire and explosives in a volatile area west of Baghdad.
The commander of the 150,000-strong American contingent, Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez, today said 46 members of the US-led occupation force had been wounded in action and four killed during the past week.
He told a Baghdad news conference he was considering pulling his troops out of some of the cities and would do so right away if it was clear local security forces were ready to take over.
In the restive city of Fallujah, thousands of angry people marched for the funeral of a 17-year-old boy who locals said was killed by accident by US soldiers.
In a further twist over the case for the war on Iraq, former UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix today attacked the “spin and hype” behind US and British allegations that Baghdad had banned weapons of mass destruction.
Washington and London gave the banned weapons issue as the main reason for war.
Blix, who said this week he believed Iraq had destroyed its weapons of mass destruction 10 years ago, told BBC radio London and Washington “over-interpreted” intelligence about Baghdad’s weapons programmes.