Speaking to reporters, Powell denied that the US has given up on a new resolution after its earlier draft was rejected by several influential members of the Security Council.

"We are very actively engaged…I am not thinking of pulling it at the moment, but I might by Monday, but I am not thinking of pulling it now, not at all, yet," Powell said.

"Over the weekend I expect to contact a number of additional foreign ministers," he added.

He said it would be clear by Monday whether a new resolution was in reach.

"We are trying to listen, take into account what we are hearing and bring the community back together around the resolution and I will know early next week how successful that effort has been," Powell explained.

Unable to restore order all by itself, the US wants a new resolution empowering other countries to contribute troops and cash for post-war Iraq.

But its efforts to push through a resolution have failed in the face of opposition from France, Germany and Russia, who resent the continued occupation of Iraq.

Cheney (R) and Rumsfeld have
launched a counter offensive

They want the US to quickly cede power to the Iraqis, but Washington's reluctance to give any such commitment has resulted in a stalemate.

Counter offensive

Meanwhile, a beleaguered US administration launched a counter-offensive during the day to silence critics of the war.

Vice President Dick Cheney said opponents of the war favoured "doing exactly nothing" about the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein.

"Those who declined to support the liberation of Iraq would not deny the evil of Saddam Hussein's regime. They must concede, however, that had their own advice been followed, that regime would rule Iraq today," Cheney said in a speech to the Heritage Foundation thinktank.

In California, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld accused the media of focusing on the dark sides in post-war Iraq, ignoring the progress and successes on the ground. 

"The picture that is negative is being emphasised while the part of the picture that is positive is not," Rumsfeld complained.