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U.N. Adopts Resolution on Power Transfer in Iraq

The council approved the resolution after significant revisions brought France and Germany — staunch opponents of the war — on board.

“The significance of this resolution … is to take away the concept of occupation, which I would say was the main reason for many of the difficulties that we have been going through since liberation,” interim Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said after the council’s 15 members passed the resolution.

The most contentious issue was how much control Iraqi leaders would have over major U.S.-run military operations after the June 30 transfer of power.

The resolution says Iraqi leaders would have control of the country’s security forces, and the United States and Iraq’s new interim government would work out a policy on how to cooperate on “sensitive offensive operations,” Reuters reported.

The resolution stops short of allowing Iraqis to veto major offensives by U.S.-led troops, an allowance France, Germany and other countries had sought.

Last week, however, the United States and Britain agreed that the interim Iraqi government had the right to order U.S. troops — now numbering 160,000 — to leave Iraq, and made clear that the multinational force’s mandate will expire in January 2006, when a permanent Iraqi government is due to take office.

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said his country was not totally satisfied with the document, but would vote in favor of it to “help find a positive way out of this tragedy.”

Algerian Ambassador Abdullah Baali, the only Arab nation delegate on the council, said the resolution would not solve all problems in Iraq but said he thought “we got the best we could get under the circumstances,” the AP reported.

The resolution also puts the new Iraqi leaders in charge of oil and gas revenues, which occupiers now control. An international advisory board, including an Iraqi representative, would audit accounts but have no power to stop expenditures.

Meanwhile in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez said U.S.-led special forces carried out a bloodless rescue mission south of Baghdad Tuesday, freeing three Italians and one Polish hostage, and capturing some of their kidnappers.

Italy’s Premier Silvio Berlusconi told Italian state television that the hostages would be flown back to Italy on Wednesday. “This was a happy ending to a story that could have been tragic,” he said, according to Reuters.

Four Italians, who were in Iraq as private security guards, were captured April 12. Captors killed the fourth man, Fabrizio Quattrochi.

The Pole, a construction company official, was kidnapped last week after seven men stormed the Baghdad office of the Jedynka construction company, the AP reported.

Elsewhere in Iraq, at least nine Iraqis were killed and 25 wounded when a taxi carrying three men blew up near the mayor’s office in the northern city of Mosul.

Also Tuesday, a car bomb exploded near a U.S. base in the town of Baquba, 40 miles north of Baghdad, killing four Iraqis and a U.S. soldier. Ten soldiers, one foreign contractor and six Iraqis were injured, the U.S. military said.

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