New Iraq Resolution Gains Steam

U.S. soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division patrol along a street, shortly after troops from the division arrived to provide security and to search for wanted former Saddam Hussein loyalists, in Hawija, northern Iraq, May 20, 2003. Hawija is known by many Iraqis to have been a major base for Baath Party loyalists and an area base of operation for Iraqi secret police.
France, Russia and Germany will vote in favor of a U.N. resolution to let the U.S.-led coalition run Iraq until a recognized government takes over and to lift sanctions, the French foreign minister said Wednesday.

"We have decided to vote for this resolution and to work toward a consensus within the Security Council," Dominique de Villepin told reporters.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov stood at his side.

De Villepin said the resolution — to be voted on Thursday — is the "result of a compromise," and that the United States, Britain and Spain "have listened to their partners."

The resolution's co-sponsors — the United States, Britain and Spain — made more than 90 changes from the original draft introduced on May 9 to respond to concerns of other council members, according to Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte.

The resolution was virtually certain to get 12 "yes" votes in the 15-member Security Council, diplomats there said.

In other developments:

  • Iraq's civilian administrator said a national conference to choose an interim government probably won't be held until mid-July. L. Paul Bremer, Iraq's U.S. civilian administrator, did not explain the delay but said he was looking to create a government "representative of all Iraqis."
  • NATO's 19 nations agreed unanimously Wednesday to start planning to help Poland lead a multinational peacekeeping force in Iraq, a move that should begin to heal the alliance's deep divisions over the war. Although the plans involve only modest technical assistance, the step also marks the possibility of a wider role for NATO in postwar Iraq.
  • U.S. officials looking for Iraq's weapons said some 20 percent of catalogued radioactive materials stored at Iraq's largest nuclear facility are unaccounted for following severe looting. They also said radioactive patches were found on the ground at the Tuwaitha nuclear plant where looters dumped out barrels believed to contain hazardous materials.
  • U.S. soldiers in northern Iraq patrolled the streets of Hawijeh to restore calm after a weekend of Arab-Kurdish violence left at least 11 people dead and a U.S. soldier wounded.
  • International experts will be invited to inspect two mobile labs U.S. officials suspect of being used by Iraq as biological weapons facilities.
  • Iraqi women are studying the Kurdish-controlled north to see how women there have improved their status in the male-dominated Muslim society. In the last decade, Kurdish women have pushed through laws granting them unprecedented rights and protecting them from the honor killings that are commonplace elsewhere in the Middle East.
  • The World Health Organization says it has just a fraction of the money it needs to support Iraq's floundering hospitals. WHO is trying to collect $180 million to restore basic services like cleaning and trash disposal and pay salaries at hospitals across Iraq.

    The decision by France, Russia and Germany to go along with the U.N. resolution marks a sharp contrast to the steadfast "no" that the three countries maintained ahead of the U.S.-led war against Iraq.

    All three opposed the war, a stance that bred enmity among allies, particularly between Washington and Paris, which led the campaign against the war.

    Since the end of the war, efforts have been made to smooth over the ill feelings ahead of the effort to rebuild Iraq.

    Ivanov and Fischer met with French President Jacques Chirac, along with their French counterpart, ahead of the news conference.

    The presidential Elysee Palace made no comment about the meeting.