France, Germany Cautious about Technical Details of US Draft Resolution

France and Germany, the two permanent Security Council members who opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq, expressed cautious welcome to the resolution cosponsored by the United States, Britain and Spain, but cautioned about many of the legal and technical problems it raised.

Germany ambassador to the UN Gunter Pleuger said different delegations had pointed to different legal, political and economic questions as the resolution contained some very complicated political and legal arrangement.

As all these questions have to be reviewed by the experts, it is too early to say how difficult they are and more time is needed to solve them, he said,

On the issue of UN special representatives, he said some clarifications are needed on how the relationship between the representatives and the interim authorities in Iraq and what their responsibilities would be in real terms.

He said he would raise the issue with Secretary-General Kofi Annan over the weekend retreat to hear his view before he can come to any conclusion.

He noted that since the situation in Iraq has undergone great changes, the sanction is no longer necessary. However, with the lifting of the sanctions there will be many related problems to be resolved.

"We approach the problems in a pragmatic and constructive way. Whether some of the stipulations in the resolution meet the requirement of the reality on the ground we have to see," he said.

He singled out the oil-for-food program. Under the resolution, the program would be phased out in four months. He said he was not sure whether the set time was sufficient and the council had to ask the UN office for Iraq program if this was the right timeframe to tackle such technical questions.

His views were echoed by French ambassador to the UN Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, who said there are some difficulties and question marks in the resolution, though there are some positive development in the humanitarian aid and economic fields.

He said France took a pragmatic and constructive approached to the discussion.

The council members raised many questions, he said, as the resolution contained many important legal and technical issues.

He cited how to phase out the oil-for-food program, the transparency on oil sales, clarification of the political processes in Iraq, the role of the UN coordinator, and how the council could monitor this process.

He insisted that the role of the UN coordinators should be enhanced, and especially in the political field the Security Council should be able to monitor the political process in Iraq.

While noting the council members had a "very constructive" discussion, he said discussions on these issues may take some time.

He said he hoped the council members would be able to reach a consensus in the coming weeks.

France earlier made its own proposal which calls the council to suspend sanctions, phases out the oil-for-food program, lets US and UN weapons inspectors work together and lifts sanctions when a legitimate Iraqi government is in place.

The US resolution, however, makes no mention of UN weapons inspectors. US ambassador to the UN John Negroponte said he noted many delegations expressed great reservation over the issue.

The council faces a June 3 deadline, when the current six-month phase of the oil-for-food program expires.

The Security Council has decided to convene an expert meeting next Monday to address many of the questions that had been raised and the council would then meet at the ambassadorial level Wednesday.

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