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Iraq bombing could mean more troops

Powell, Annan exploring new U.N. resolution

The death toll in the U.N. bombing in Baghdad has risen to 23. Two people remain missing Thursday.
The death toll in the U.N. bombing in Baghdad has risen to 23. Two people remain missing Thursday.

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Tuesday's bombing continues stepped-up attacks on facilities in Iraq.
August 7 -- Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad bombed, killing 10
August 16 -- Oil pipeline sabotaged in northern Iraq
August 17 -- Water pipes sabotaged in Baghdad
August 19
-- U.N. headquarters in Baghdad hit by truck bomb

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- This week's deadly bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad could be a catalyst to win support for a Security Council resolution under discussion for weeks that would encourage more countries to send security troops to Iraq, officials said.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was in New York Thursday to promote such a resolution with the council and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Powell said his colleagues and Annan's staff were exploring with council members "language that might call on member states to do more."

"We want the humanitarian workers and other workers in Iraq -- reconstruction workers and others -- to have a safe environment," Powell told reporters after a morning meeting with Annan. (Aid groups pull out)

Powell's effort evoked a cool response from council members France, Russia and Germany, who said the United Nations should play a larger role in Iraq, according to Reuters and Washington Post reports. All three opposed the U.S.-British invasion of Iraq.

"To share the burden and the responsibilities in a world of equal and sovereign nations, also means sharing information and authority," Michel Duclos, France's charge d'affaires at the United Nations, told a Security Council discussion, Reuters reported.

"This political transition will have a greater chance of success if it is guided by the Iraqis themselves with the assistance not of the occupation forces but of the international community as a whole," Duclos said.

Reuters reported that Russia's U.N. Ambassador Sergei Lavrov agreed with Duclos as did Wolfgang Trautwein, Germany's charge d'affaires, who called for a "wider U.N. role in the political field" and "broader military cooperation."

The diplomatic moves follow Tuesday's bombing in Baghdad that killed at least 23 people, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, the top U.N. envoy in Iraq. (Situation in Iraq)

About 140,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq and more than 20,000 forces are from other countries, principally Britain.

Powell noted an international presence already exists in Iraq, with about 30 nations contributing troops under U.S.-led coalition control.

Five more nations -- which one source said included Turkey and Thailand -- are sending troops and 14 other nations, among them Moldova, New Zealand, Philippines, Portugal and Thailand, according to a State Department officials, are in conversations with the coalition on troop contributions.

A new resolution might also induce other Muslim countries such as Pakistan to send troops, Reuters reported.

Some countries such as India have cited the need for a new U.N. resolution authorizing a military operation before they could send any troops. India previously declined a U.S. request to send 17,000 peacekeepers to Iraq. (Full story)

"Perhaps additional language and a new resolution might encourage others," Powell said. "There is a willingness to come together to help the Iraqi people."

Possible elements of such a resolution could be a rhetorical incentive to send more troops, a call for countries to donate money to rebuild Iraq, a warning to neighboring states to stay out, an appeal to international lending institutions to stay in, an appeal to unfreeze Iraqi assets, a call to welcome the Iraqi governing council, and a universal condemnation of terrorism.

A senior Bush administration official told CNN "the president and his National Security Council want broad international support in Iraq for the rebuilding effort and the long-term success."

If some countries for domestic political purposes need to send their troops in under U.N. auspices, the United States will try to find language to allow that, the senior official said.

"It's all semantics," the senior official said. "If we can write a resolution that gives countries the cover to send in troops, of course we will do it."

The United States, however, would draw the line on giving up primary military or political control of the transition, the official said.

"We will maintain the chain of command. The United States is spending 95 percent of the money to maintain Iraq until the economy is up and running. We have accountability issues," the official said.

Because of this, few in the administration are optimistic such a resolution would be approved anytime soon.

Bush officials know they need more troops on the ground for security, said the senior official, but the assessment of military commanders is that U.S. troops "could have a negative impact" in some areas of Iraq.

Another senior administration official said one idea Powell was expected to discuss with Annan was to have the Iraqi governing council make the request to the Security Council for more troops.

"It's a legitimate request," said this official, who added that it could also help "build the legitimacy for the GC."

Powell and Annan were scheduled to meet separately Friday with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

Despite disagreements among U.N. members over the Iraqi war, Annan said the issue of Iraqi stability is of "great concern" to all, regardless of political positions. Annan said the United Nations did not, however, intend to send U.N. "blue helmets," or peacekeepers.

The United States brushed aside earlier discussions to assemble a U.N.-led coalition force in Iraq.

Annan offered the idea of "a multinational force that oversees the security arrangements with the U.N., focusing on the economic, political and social areas where we do our best work, including the humanitarian aid."

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