Lula’s comments come three days after the Brazilian head of the United Nations mission in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, was killed when a huge car bomb tore through the UN headquarters in Baghdad.

He urged the international body to take over the process of bringing democracy to Iraq.

“The behaviour of the United States in relation to Iraq has weakened the United Nations,” Lula said at a press briefing.

Dangerous precedent

He warned that other nations would take as precedent the manner in which the US and Britain ignored the Security Council.

US President George W. Bush launched the war against Iraq without the approval of the UN.    

“Things could get worse in Iraq,” Lula said.

“The way out now is political, not military."

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva,
Brazilian president

"Interventions in the politics of a country are not healthy. I support the United Nations assuming responsibility for the democratisation process in Iraq.”

Destined to fail

Separately, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned the US it would fail in its bid to get Security Council support for more troops in Iraq unless it ceded some decision-making power. 
   
“It would also imply not just burden-sharing but also sharing decision and responsibility with the others," Annan said.

"If that doesn't happen, I think it is going to be very difficult to get a second resolution that will satisfy everyone.”

France, Russia, Germany - who all opposed the invasion of Iraq – would be unlikely to offer its soldiers without them being under UN mandate.

India, which has said it would be prepared to send its soldiers to the war-torn country, stipulated it would only do so were they to go as blue-helmeted peacekeepers.

Still, the US is unlikely to be prepared to relinquish any control. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who visited Annan on Thursday, said no discussion had been held on the issue.