Security Council Balks at Postwar Plans
Thursday 10 April 2003
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Most members of the U.N. Security Council want the United Nations to have a political role in Iraq's future and object to the supporting duties envisioned for it by the United States and Britain.
In informal talks Wednesday at Britain's U.N. Mission, many ambassadors supported holding a conference on a postwar Iraq similar to the one that led to an interim government in Afghanistan.
"It has broad support,'' Russia's U.N. Ambassador Sergey Lavrov said Thursday.
Chile's U.N. Ambassador Gabriel Valdes said a majority of council members want the U.N. to have a political role in Iraq, a position at odds with a statement issued Tuesday by President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The leaders of the coalition called for a "vital'' role for the U.N., but appeared to limit its tasks to humanitarian assistance and issuing resolutions that "endorse'' a post-conflict administration.
When pressed to define the U.N. role, Bush said that in addition to humanitarian aid and fund-raising, the world body can make suggestions about the makeup of Iraq's interim authority -- nothing near the broad mandate to administer that some U.N. members have sought.
"I think that some differences lie on the way in which the role of the U.N. is depicted in the declaration itself,'' Valdes said.
Some council members also raised questions about the U.S.-British proposal for a resolution that would endorse an interim authority.
"What sort of authority would that be, and what sort of endorsement would the council give?'' the Chilean ambassador said.
He said "most of us are very open to (the) possibility'' of an Afghan-style conference to establish the framework for a new Iraqi government.
Other council diplomats said British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock seemed open to having the United Nations organize a conference on Iraq. Deputy U.S. ambassador James Cunningham didn't take a position saying the U.S.-led coalition is open to an important political role for the world body, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Cunningham made the point that the coalition sees the post-war period as a time to engage and empower the Iraqis, but events are moving rapidly on the ground and if council members get wrapped up in past disputes they may lose the opportunity to be involved, the diplomats said.
Russia's Lavrov wanted more specific information on what the coalition is going to do next before supporting a conference, the diplomats said.
Mexico's U.N. Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, the current council president, said members weren't discussing whether the U.N. role ``is vital or it is central.''
"We all agree that this is a very unfortunate debate about words,'' he said. "We are discussing in substantive terms, from the perspective given by the coalition, and from the perspective that we members of the council have, what the role of the United Nations should be.''
Pakistan's U.N. Ambassador Munir Akram said the council must re-examine the oil-for-food humanitarian program and speed up humanitarian aid.
The council must also address the issue of U.N. weapons inspectors and when to certify that Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction, Akram said. That will determine when U.N. sanctions against Iraq will be lifted.
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