The United States wants the resolution to give UN backing for a multinational force to secure stability in war-torn Baghdad. Opponents are calling for an expanded role for the world body and a speedy handover of power to Iraqis.

“Obviously it’s not going in the direction I had recommended,” said Annan, adopting an unusually strong tone, on Thursday after the 15-member Council’s first meeting on the new draft.

“We are studying it. We will have to determine whether it is a radical change from the past or what it is,” said the UN chief.  

Annan wants responsibilities in Iraq to be clearly stated-in part so UN personnel do not appear linked to the occupation-and guarantees on security after two deadly attacks on the world body’s Baghdad offices.

The draft would provide a UN mandate for an international force in Iraq, something potential troop contributors like Pakistan have said is essential before they can take part.

Emyr Jones Parry, the ambassador for Washington’s chief ally Britain, said the draft outlined a “very clear role” for the world body, adding it answered “most of the questions” which needed to be addressed.

But Angolan Ambassador Ismail Gaspar Martins said there was “confusion” about what the United Nations would have to do in Iraq.

French opposition

“The revised text does not address our wishes,” said France’s UN ambassador Jean-Marc De La Sabliere.

France's Marc de La Sabliere said
draft snubs Paris' concerns

The French ambassador said Washington’s draft “leaves the United Nations in a secondary role”.

Paris has pledged not to veto the measure, which Washington is hoping will be enough to get nations to contribute cash and soldiers to occupy Iraq, where US soldiers face daily deadly resistance attacks.

But a high number of abstentions would be seen as giving only tepid Council mandate and not the robust backing the US wants from the world body.

Washington failed to secure support from the UN for its war against Iraq in March.

France, Germany and Russia are spearheading calls for a rapid end to the US-British occupation of Iraq and speedy handover of power. The latest US draft sets no deadline but calls for a “progressive” transfer of authority.

US Ambassador John Negroponte said he is “encouraged by what we see to be an emerging convergence among” the Council’s members.

Further talks will be held on Monday.