Sunday, Sep 14, 2003
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By Sridhar Krishnaswami
The State Department is not providing much details of Gen. Powell's first trip to Iraq including when he might be there, other than saying that the top Cabinet official will be meeting Iraqis including members of the Coalition Provincial Authority to see "first hand the progress being made by the international community and by the Iraqi people in rebuilding their nation and society".
Incidentally, Gen. Powell is not the first Cabinet official to make a visit to Iraq. His colleague, Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defence, has made two visits including one the past week. Gen Powell's visit comes at a time when there is a growing clamour inside Iraq and in the international community for that country to be run under the aegis of the United Nations; and for an acceleration of the time-table for elections and restoration of sovereignty.
Even prior to going to Geneva and in his comments en route Gen Powell has brushed aside the notion that the U.N. could be totally in charge of Iraq. He has argued that the thinking that the U.N. could suddenly "take this all over" to the exclusion of the Coalition Provisional Authority is "not realistic".
He has termed the French plan for the establishment of a provisional authority in Iraq within a month, a draft constitution by the end the year and elections by spring of next year as "totally unrealistic" on grounds that the conditions are not ripe.
"We have invested too much to consider such a proposal", Gen. Powell has been quoted as saying.
There is the realisation here that given the perceptions of France and Russia on Iraq, the United States is not anywhere close to a resolution on Iraq which it is so keen on getting from the Security Council.
Permanent and Non-Permanent members in the Council are telling Washington in precise and clear terms that the Bush administration will have to agree on substantive changes to the draft it has proposed before the measure will pass.
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