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Powell Says Geneva Meeting Narrowed Differences

Powell Says Geneva Meeting Narrowed Differences Among U.N. P5

U.N. resolution on Iraq, Middle East road map discussed

By Wendy Lubetkin
Washington File Correspondent Geneva

Geneva -- Secretary of State Colin Powell says the five permanent members (P5) of the United Nations Security Council share the common goal of "the transfer of authority back to the Iraqi people as quickly as possible," although some differences remain on how to best achieve that transition.

Powell spoke following a meeting of P5 foreign ministers convened by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva. The meeting brought Powell together with Foreign Ministers Li Zhaoxing of China, Jack Straw of Great Britain, Dominique de Villepin of France and Igor Ivanov of the Russian Federation.

Powell said there was some "narrowing of the differences" among the P5 at the meeting. "I think there was some convergence, but there are still differences." He said the meeting had provided an opportunity for candid and relatively private discussions, and that the work on the issue will be continued in New York.

"What we are all committed to, as the secretary general said, is to put authority back into the hands of the Iraqi people for their own destiny, for their own future, as fast as is possible, but in a responsible way," Powell told journalists following the meeting.

"What we were discussing is the best way to do that, and the time lines under which it should be done; and those time lines ultimately have to be agreed upon -- if not developed in the first place -- by the Iraqis through their Governing Council. And that is what our resolution provides for in the first draft we put down.

"We didn't put any particular proposals on the table to discuss. There was no resolution before us. No paragraphs were discussed. We had a general discussion about the way forward. Our common goal is to transfer authority back to the Iraqi people as quickly as is possible. The question is on what ‘glide path' and with which process."

Annan said a unified approach by the permanent members of the Security Council would "make it easier for the Security Council as a whole to devise an effective policy."

Speaking at a joint press conference following the meeting, Annan said the discussions in Geneva were not intended to devise specific solutions, but to "contribute to building consensus toward the future of Iraq, including a definition of the U.N. role."

Annan said the P5 foreign ministers also discussed the situation in the Middle East and that they "reaffirmed their commitment to the Quartet's Road Map."

"The permanent members of the Security Council recognized that both sides have obligations under the Quartet's road map and must fulfill them, and that it was essential to go ahead with the implementation," Annan said. He added that it had been agreed that Quartet principals will meet in New York later this month "to consider all relevant aspect of the issue and determine how best to help the parties move forward with the process."

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