“We must make sure that this government has all the levers of sovereignty,” [French Foreign Minister Michel] Barnier said yesterday at a news conference in New York. “We need the U.S. to accept and understand that there has to be a real break. We don’t want to make a mistake and mishandle the situation.”
Without specifying how it would occur, Barnier said the interim government should be consulted and be able to make recommendations about U.S. military operations. The government to be elected by January could decide whether U.S. troops, which now number 138,000, stay in Iraq, he said.
The U.S., which has spent more than $70 billion on the invasion and occupation of Iraq, faces a June 30 transfer of legal power in the Middle East’s third-largest oil producer. Iraqi political leaders and United Nations diplomats say Iraqis should choose an interim government that has full sovereignty.