The resolution is virtually assured of adoption by the 15-member UN Security Council.

But it is unclear whether key council members, such as France, Germany, Russia and China, would support the measure or abstain, thereby lessening the impact of the resolution.

Announcing the vote late on Tuesday, US Ambassador John Negroponte said: "I think we have made every effort possible to take into account the views of various delegations."

With President George Bush under pressure from the growing cost of the Iraq occupation in US lives and money, Washington is pressing the UN to pass a resolution paving the way for other states to contribute forces and cash.

Concessions 

France, Germany and Russia, supported by China, submitted amendments that showed considerable concessions, some of which were accepted by Washington.

But their key amendment on devising a specific timeline for the end of occupation was rejected by the United States and Britain.

The three countries dropped earlier demands for a handover of sovereignty to an Iraqi provisional government within five months.

UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, whose stand on Iraq is critical for many member states, said the US-drafted resolution had made few significant changes.

He said that as long as the US occupation continued, "the resistance will grow".

Annan (L) says Iraqi resistance
will continue to grow

US occupation

"Obviously, the current resolution does not represent a major shift in the thinking of the coalition," Annan said.

He made clear he had no immediate plans to send back UN staff, most of whom were pulled out after a car bomb wrecked the UN offices in Baghdad and killed 22 people in August.

But he said he would consider it in the future and that this was recognised in the draft.

As in earlier versions, the resolution would transfer the current troops to a UN-authorised multinational force, still under US leadership.

This is to give a UN imprimatur to nations such as Pakistan and Bangladesh that may send troops, but need political cover to serve under an occupation.

Iraqi sovereignty

In a gesture to critics, the US-drafted resolution says the Iraqi Governing Council "will embody the sovereignty of the State of Iraq".

Annan dismissed this as "a nice phrase" that made little difference. "The resolution also says that the occupying power is the authority and is a government," he noted.

"It is not a question of finding words to stitch words together. We need to think of the impact that the resolution and our action will have on the ground because that is the test of the effectiveness of an Iraqi resolution."

The United Nations in the US draft would play a "vital" but not a central political role in guiding Iraqis toward self-rule.