The United States and Britain on Friday revised their plan for the interim Iraqi government that will assume limited power on June 30, giving it the authority to order the U.S.-led multinational force to leave the country at any time.
The latest draft resolution -- the third in less than two weeks -- also spells out the limits on the new government's activities, barring it from taking "any actions affecting Iraq's destiny" beyond the seven months it will be in power.
While the new draft addresses some concerns raised by Iraq and certain U.N. Security Council members, it does not address the relationship between the interim government and the multinational force.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zubari has asked the council to define this relationship. The Iraqis want a partnership with the force and to be consulted on major military operations that have political implications -- such as the bloody, three-week Marine siege of Fallujah, a stronghold of Sunni insurgents west of Baghdad.
Zubari urged the council on Thursday "to endorse and acknowledge" the interim constitution, which the country will use until a new charter is completed next year. But the interim constitution, known as the Transitional Administrative Law, is not mentioned in the latest draft.
The previous U.S.-British draft, introduced on Tuesday, declared the council's readiness to end the multinational force's mandate by January 2006, or at the request of the government that will be formed after the elections, which must be held by Jan. 31, 2005. But it did not give the interim government any authority over the force.
Zubari told the Security Council on Thursday that the incoming government wants the multinational force to stay to prevent a civil war.
On Friday, he told the Associated Press that he could not foresee its departure before power is transferred to a transitional government early next year.
The Iraqi minister also stressed that the new government does not want "a fixed deadline or timetable" for the departure of the force, but that it does want whatever Iraqi government is in power to have the authority to decide when it should leave.
The latest draft, which was circulated to Security Council members, formally states what British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell have said publicly -- that, if asked, their troops will leave.
It declares that the council will terminate the mandate for the multinational force after another round of elections by Dec. 31, 2005, under a new constitution that will be drafted next year, or earlier, "if requested by the sovereign government of Iraq."