WASHINGTON - Shifting tactics and reaching out for help, the Bush administration offered Wednesday to share with the United Nations the long-dominant U.S. role in Iraq's postwar reconstruction.
Secretary of State Colin Powell described the effort as "essentially putting the Security Council in the game," and European governments reacted favorably to the revised U.S. approach.
France, which led opposition to the war on Iraq, said a new U.N. resolution proposed by the United States should ensure that political power will be transferred quickly to an internationally recognized Iraqi government to help restore peace.
"The question is how to win the peace - and how to have the situation stabilized," France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said in New York.
Under the resolution, American commanders would remain in charge of peacekeeping operations in Iraq, but there, too, "we are asking the international community to join us even more than they have in the past," Powell said.
The resolution may be ready for submission to the Security Council next week, he said as he telephoned foreign ministers. U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte circulated a draft to other U.N. ambassadors in New York, and Powell said initial reactions were positive.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, on his way to the Mideast, said countries that donate troops and money in Iraq will have a voice in both civil and military operations there.
"To the extent countries step up with troops and support and money, they have a seat at the table," Rumsfeld said. "They have the opportunity to work with us and the Iraqis."
As outlined by Powell, State Department officials and U.N. diplomats at the Security Council in New York, the draft U.S. resolution would:
- Transform the U.S.-led coalition force into a U.N.-authorized multinational one under a unified command to help maintain "security and stability in Iraq" and urge the 191 U.N. member states to contribute troops.
- Call on U.N. member states to help train and equip an Iraqi police force.
- Invite the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council to cooperate with the United Nations and U.S. officials in Baghdad to produce "a timetable and program for the drafting of a new constitution for Iraq and for the holding of democratic elections."
- Ask the U.N. representative in Iraq to facilitate a "national dialogue and consensus building" to promote the political transition and help organize elections.
- Ask all U.N. member states and regional and international organizations to "accelerate the provision of substantial financial contributions" for reconstruction.
- Endorse the Iraqi Governing Council "as the principal body of the Iraqi interim administration" and back its efforts "to mobilize the people of Iraq."
Powell said one of the two key goals of the resolution was to invite the Iraqi Governing Council to submit a program and timetable for political evolution with a constitution and free elections. He called that "creating a political horizon."
The second goal, Powell said, was to have the Security Council authorize a multinational force to which other nations might contribute troops.