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Bush ends some sanctions against Iraq, will ask U.N. to lift others

WASHINGTON—President Bush lifted certain U.S. economic sanctions against Iraq on Wednesday, promising that a draft resolution lifting broader international sanctions would soon be presented at the United Nations.

"The regime that the sanctions were directed against no longer rules Iraq," Bush said in a joint appearance before reporters with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar. "And no country in good conscience can support using sanctions to hold back the hopes of the Iraqi people."

Earlier Wednesday, Treasury Secretary John Snow announced that he would lift certain sanctions to allow U.S. humanitarian aid to flow to Iraq; permit certain private aid and humanitarian activities; and allow people in the United States to send up to $500 a month to friends and family in Iraq.

Bush and Aznar said they and Great Britain would present a new resolution to the U.N. Security Council "soon." Those three had tried to get the United Nations to give Saddam Hussein an ultimatum to leave Iraq in March but failed to garner enough support. War was launched on March 19 without the United Nations' explicit approval.

Bush said the acrimony at the United Nations that soured diplomatic efforts before the war has been replaced by a "mood to work together to achieve a resolution that will expedite the reconstruction of Iraq. The read from at least our diplomats at the United Nations is that the kind of atmosphere that existed prior to the war has changed, and that people now want to work together for the good of the Iraqi people."

The new U.N. resolution would seek to lift economic and humanitarian sanctions on Iraq that have been in place in various forms since Saddam's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Sanctions that govern the possession, development and procurement of weapons of mass destruction and other armaments would remain.

The resolution also would effectively establish the U.S.-led coalition as the ruling authority of Iraq for 12 months, although that could be shortened or otherwise changed with a Security Council vote. The document also sets a central goal of creating an interim Iraqi authority to help the nation in transition to a permanent Iraqi government.

According to a U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity, the new resolution would offer two apparent olive branches to critics on the Security Council who have argued for a central role for international organizations in rebuilding Iraq:

First, it would create an "Iraqi Assistance Fund," overseen by an international advisory board. The board would include representatives of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and appropriate regional institutions.

It also would call on Annan to appoint a special coordinator for Iraq to work with the existing U.S.-led authority ruling Iraq.

Although neither element would outweigh the governing authority, both are meant to persuade critics, like France, Russia and Germany, that the U.N. will have a significant voice in the rebuilding effort.

Whether that will succeed remains to be seen. The debate last fall over a resolution on Iraqi weapons inspections took eight weeks, and the ensuing months were marked by limited agreement on how to disarm Iraq.

On Wednesday, the State Department dispatched Assistant Secretary of State Kim Holmes to Moscow and Berlin to seek support for removing U.N. sanctions.

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(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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