According to a draft resolution on Tuesday, Islamic foreign ministers meeting in Malaysia want a dominant role for the United Nations there.

As Washington sought to rally the Security Council behind its vision of the way forward in the war-shattered nation, some ministers also pushed for a one-year time limit on the US-led occupation.

"Some want the resolution to say the UN should play a pivotal role in Iraq," Bashar Jaafari, a senior Syrian diplomat, said ahead of Thursday's opening of the two-day Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) summit.

UN Iraq role

The Malaysian hosts were adamant the United Nations

should take charge, while welcoming signs that Washington will pass more authority to the Iraqi Provisional Governing Council in mid-December.

   

"I think the most important thing is that there is an end

date, which is better than an open-ended situation," Malaysian Foreign Minister Sayid Hamid Albar said.

   

"But the most important thing, I think, is they should bring the UN to play the central role, otherwise there will still be a lot of problems." 

   

He added: "The UN should be the one that supervises, undertakes the whole exercise and it would be easier for it to have international legitimacy." 

 

Annan pullout

   

"I think the most important thing is that there is an end date, which is better than an open-ended situation... But the most important thing, I think, is they should bring the UN to play the central role, otherwise there will still be a lot of problems"

Sayid Hamid Albar,
Malaysian Foreign Minister

The summit in Putrajaya, Malaysia's new administrative capital, will be the largest gathering of Muslim leaders since the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States.

   

UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, who had been due to

attend, pulled out due to negotiations at the Security Council in New York over the latest US draft on Iraq.

   

The United States revised its draft resolution on Monday to

include a deadline of 15 December for the handover of power to the Iraqis, with the Provisional Governing Council handpicked by the United States performing the role as interim administration.

   

Some delegates welcomed that as a step forward.

   

"Of course this is a serious and genuine move and if implemented in good faith, and conditions are conducive to the restoration of Iraqi sovereignty, it will be good for the Iraqi

people, the region and the Muslim world," Musa Braizat, a

senior Jordanian Foreign Ministry official, said.

 

Stabilising Iraq

   

But the US draft resolution did not create a provisional

government.

   

Nor did it give the United Nations a central role in drafting a constitution and organising elections, putting into doubt whether Annan would return political staff to Iraq, following the bombing of UN offices in Baghdad.

   

It was also not immediately clear whether the latest US draft

would find favour among the Muslim countries Washington hopes might share some of the burden of stabilising and

reconstructing Iraq.

   

"We have to study the document before we can make any

assessment," a senior Saudi delegate said. "But any

move to enhance the role of the UN is a positive move."