Agreement reached on Iraq resolution

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier told French radio that while his government is not fully satisfied with the resolution but that would not prevent it giving a “positive vote”.

France has the power of veto on the UN Security Council and opposed the war in Iraq.

The United Nations Security Council is expected to vote tomorrow on a resolution setting out the terms of Iraq’s return to sovereignty, after a last-minute deal.

This comes as powerful Iraqi militias agree to disarm, in a major step towards averting all-out civil war between Iraq’s volatile mix of Sunnis, Shi’ites and Kurds.

The council is expected to give unanimous support for the resolution.

The US and Britain offered changes that, while not fulfilling a French request to give Iraq veto power over US military operations, seemed to adequately satisfy critics.

“I think we have reached a state where the resolution has a very good text,” said German ambassador Gunter Pleuger.
“The new text also reflects our concerns, and I think we can live with that.”

“But I think that things are going in the right direction.”

The wide-ranging measure would endorse the new interim government in Iraq and authorise US-led forces to remain in the country to ensure stability after self-rule begins.

It also ensures security for UN personnel, a key concern of Secretary General Kofi Annan since a suicide bombing killed 22 people at the UN’s Baghdad offices in August last year.

However there are concerns over the powers the Iraqi government will have over the presence of roughly 160,000 US-led foreign troops, who are fighting a bloody insurgency.

France has advocated giving Iraq an effective veto power over “sensitive offensive operations”.

But the latest revision is a watered-down compromise, changing the language to say that the US and Britain would coordinate in “full partnership” with Iraq on sensitive operations.

“We’ve made a major effort,” US ambassador John Negroponte said after hours of negotiations.

“We think this is an excellent resolution and we would expect to put it to a vote tomorrow afternoon. This is definitely a new phase in the political history of Iraq – the restoration of full sovereignty.”

Meanwhile in Iraq, three people were killed after an apparent car bomb attack in Mosul.

Local police say the attack appears to have targeted Mosul’s mayor, who is also the head of the province’s security commission.

And one US soldier and at least four Iraqis died when a car bomb detonated outside a US base in the northeastern town of Baquba.

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