“The UN has a role to play but to think that the UN could suddenly take this all over, to the exclusion of the CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority), is not realistic,” he said in an interview with Aljazeera on Thursday.

“It would not work. It’s not practical. Nor have I heard anybody in the UN say that that’s what they want to do,” he added.

Giving the world body a predominant role in the political process in Iraq is central to amendments put forth by France, Germany and Russia to a US draft resolution before the UN Security Council. Washington launched its war against Baghdad in March without UN approval.

That draft is to be debated in Geneva on Saturday at a meeting of the five permanent Security Council members, including Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.

Powell said he had heard no one at the UN calling for the departure of US occupying administrator Paul Bremer from Iraq. The US Secretary of State is scheduled to take part in the meeting.

Powell insisted that the only calls were for greater UN decision-making in Iraq and “in sharing responsibility and accountability”.

“I think we can find language for a resolution that will deal with that concern and give everybody an opportunity to play a responsible role," he said.