Fischer praises new US Iraq plan
18 November 2003 , WASHINGTON - The top diplomats of the United States and Germany said this week that a wider role for the United Nations would help the transition of sovereignty to Iraqis after a new plan was proposed to speed up the transfer of power.
18 November 2003
WASHINGTON - The top diplomats of the United States and Germany said this week that a wider role for the United Nations would help the transition of sovereignty to Iraqis after a new plan was proposed to speed up the transfer of power.
"It's time now with this new plan for the UN to determine whether or not circumstances will permit it to play a more active role inside the country," US Secretary of State Colin Powell said in Washington in an appearance with visiting German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.
"Whether any further UN action might be required as we execute this plan in a form of another UN resolution or not that all remains to be seen, and we'll make a judgement on that as we move forward," Powell said.
Under the most recent Security Council resolution on Iraq, the United Nations was given a role in the reconstruction process, provided the country is safe enough for UN personnel.
But in August, the UN, headquarters in Baghdad was struck by a deadly bombing, and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan pulled out foreign UN workers until security improves.
Fischer called the new plan to speed up the transition to Iraqis a "very important step forward".
Germany, and other US allies like France and Russia that opposed the war, has been calling on the United States to speed up the transition and has limited it assistance to the US-led effort to rebuild the country.
Fischer said his country will do what it can to help the process under the plan to set up a sovereign, provisional government in Iraq by 1 July.
"This could be very helpful and what we can do we will do to contribute to this positive development," he said during a press briefing with Powell at the State Department.
The United States and US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council agreed to the new transition plan Saturday. It calls for the council to organize an election of a provisional assembly in provincial caucuses. The new interim government would then be sworn in by 1 July and the council dissolved.
The plan also calls for general elections to be held by March 2005 to elect members to a constitutional convention. Elections for a permanent government would follow in 2006.
Under the plan, US troops will remain in the country under the invitation of the provisional government.
US President George W. Bush met with a group of Iraqi women at the White House Monday, including two members of the governing council, Rajaa Habib Khuzai and Songul Chapouk.
He said he assured them the US troops will not leave Iraq prematurely.
"I assured these five women that America wasn't leaving," he said. "When they hear me say we're staying, that means we're staying."
Annan's office said Monday that he was studying the new plan, on which Powell had briefed him.
Powell would not rule out a possible role for NATO to play a security role in the country in the future.
"Right now, I think it's premature to think about that," he said. "As we get further down the road on this new plan that we have, we could look at a variety of options, but I think it'd be premature to rule that in or rule that out at this point."
Fischer was also to meet with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice while in the U.S. capital.
Subject: German news