U.S. Decides Against UN Support in Iraq

WASHINGTON -- The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush has abandoned the idea of giving the UN more of a role in the occupation of Iraq as sought by France, India and other countries as a condition for their participation in peacekeeping there, administration officials said Wednesday.

Instead, the officials said, the United States would widen its effort to enlist other countries to assist the occupation forces in Iraq, which are dominated by the 139,000 U.S. troops there.

Administration officials said that in spite of the difficult security situation in Iraq, there is a consensus in the administration that it would be better to work with these countries than to involve the UN or countries that opposed the war and are now eager to exercise influence in postwar Iraq.

The administration's position could complicate its hopes of bringing a large number of U.S. troops home in short order. The length of the U.S. occupation depends on how quickly the country can be stabilized and the attacks and uprisings brought under control.

The thinking on broadening international forces was disclosed Wednesday as the United States moved on a separate front at the Security Council to get a resolution passed this week that would welcome the establishment of the 25-member Governing Council set up by the United States and Britain in Iraq.

The resolution would also establish an "assistance mission" of the UN in Baghdad to support various UN activities there. Both steps were sought by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who had been under some pressure from Washington to make a gesture to recognize the legitimacy of the occupation.

Though the administration has decided against seeking a separate resolution to give the UN any authority over security, some officials say consideration might be given to wider UN authority over the multibillion-dollar reconstruction of Iraq.

A meeting of potential donor countries has been scheduled for Oct. 24 in Madrid, and some of the big European countries that wanted a more significant UN role if they sent peacekeepers are also hinting that they want the UN to have more of a say over reconstruction if they have to put up huge sums of money for that effort.

The Bush administration has been reluctant to give the UN more than minimal authority in the reconstruction of Iraq, and U.S. officials say a resolution broadening UN involvement in Iraq may be more trouble than it is worth. Soundings among members of the Security Council indicated that Russia, France and other countries might try for concessions favorable to them in the running of Iraq, and such demands would only deepen divisions between them and the United States.