China proposed on Wednesday major amendments to the US-British draft resolution on Iraq, calling for a time limit on the stay of the US-led multinational force as well as a say by Iraqis on its operations after power is transferred to a new Iraqi government on June 30.
In the three-page paper, China said that the multinational force's mandate shall expire in January 2005 in keeping with the timetable of Iraqi political process, and its extension should have the consent of the new Iraqi government and be decided by the Security Council.
The paper, circulated before closed-door consultations of the 15-nation council, also calls for establishing a mechanism of consultations between the force, mainly composed of American troops, and the Iraqi interim government on its military actions except for self-defense.
"The interim government of Iraq shall have its say on the security matter with responsibility to control the Iraqi army and police force," the paper says.
The United States and Britain introduced a draft measure on Iraq on Monday, seeking the Security Council's endorsement for the Iraqi power transfer and its authorization of the continued stay of the multinational force in Iraq after June 30.
But the text does not give a timetable for the withdrawal of the force. It only stipulates that the force's mandate would be reviewed one year later or at the request of Iraqis.
Likewise, the draft does not mention whether the new Iraqi government would have full control of its army, and have a say on the multinational force's actions.
Besides security, China's paper also covers Iraq's political process, justice and humanitarian law, economic reconstruction, and the role of the United Nations.
It says that the Iraqi interim government shall exercise full sovereignty, in the political, economic, security, judicial and diplomatic areas, including the power to control and dispose all the natural and economic resources, sign economic cooperation agreements and contracts, and enjoy judicial independence and the power to administer prisons in Iraq.
The US-British draft does not specify whether the Iraqi government has the right to sign economic contracts with foreign countries, nor does it say Iraq's prisons, notorious for abuses by US troops, would be turned over to Iraqis.
Under China's proposals, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan would consider arranging investigations on the reported violations of international humanitarian laws in Iraq.
After the council consultations, French Ambassador to the UN Jean-Marc de La Sabliere told reporters that China's proposals were supported by many council members, including France.
Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya said the co-sponsors of the Iraqi resolution have agreed to consider China's proposals.
The council is going to meet at the experts' level on the US-British draft on Thursday, whose adoption needs nine "yes" votes, without veto by the five permanent council members -- China, Russia, France, the United States and Britain.
(Xinhua News Agency May 27, 2004)