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U.S. wants multinational force in Iraq

Powell, Straw head to New York for meetings with Annan

The death toll in the U.N. bombing rose Thursday to 23. One person is still missing.
The death toll in the U.N. bombing rose Thursday to 23. One person is still missing.

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CNN's Michael Okwu reports on the U.S. bid for a global force in Iraq. Also, the U.N. mourns the fallen.
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Workers at U.N. offices in Geneva, Switzerland, mourn colleague Sergio Vieira de Mello.
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Local Iraqis agree with U.S. authorities that foreign hands were behind the bombing of the U.N. Baghdad offices
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NHK TV from Japan captures video of the Baghdad blast from inside the U.N. building.
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SPECIAL REPORT
• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide
RISE IN RETALIATION
Tuesday's bombing continues stepped-up attacks on facilities in Iraq.
August 7 -- Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad bombed, killing 10
August 16 -- Oil pipeline sabotaged in northern Iraq
August 17 -- Water pipes sabotaged in Baghdad
August 19
-- U.N. headquarters in Baghdad hit by truck bomb

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The United States is seeking a U.N. resolution to encourage more countries to send troops to join the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq in the wake of the deadly bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw are to meet separately Thursday with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who cut short his European vacation after the attack.

The Powell meeting is to begin around 9 a.m. EDT. One U.N. diplomat told CNN the meeting was to discuss a U.N. resolution that would call for a multinational police and security presence. Straw is to meet with Annan sometime in the afternoon.

John Negroponte, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Powell requested the meeting. He said the Security Council is exploring the possibility of a new Iraq resolution that would address the security situation.

"We're looking at the possibility of another resolution," Negroponte said. "There's a lot of reflection and assessment going on as to what else might be done to deal with the many challenges that are faced in Iraq."

But, he said, "we don't have any specific proposal to put on the table at the moment."

The diplomatic moves come in the wake of Tuesday's bombing in Baghdad that killed at least 23 people, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, the top U.N. envoy in Iraq.

Annan said Wednesday that discussions for a "multinational force" in Iraq were already under way, but he said he did not envision U.N. peacekeepers as playing a role in the region for now.

"I do not see U.N. blue helmets going into Iraq at this stage. I don't think it's a job for blue helmets," he told reporters.

A senior State Department official said Washington is talking with allies about a multinational force, with greater international involvement than the current coalition.

There are about 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and more than 20,000 coalition forces, mostly British.

The new force -- what the State Department official referred to as "an international security presence " -- would be blessed by the United Nations in a new resolution.

"We are encouraging countries, who want to, to step up for the security of Iraq and the U.N. and the other humanitarian organizations," the official said.

The official said that India is among the countries that "have said they are willing to participate if this were in a U.N. framework."

"We are talking about how that would work," the official said.

The United States and Britain are to present a report Thursday in an open meeting of the Security Council on coalition activities over the last four months.

After that, the United States will "propose to go into consultations with council members to begin the process of the assessment of the situation," Negroponte said.

Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, traveling in Honduras Wednesday, indicated the Bush administration has no plans to send additional troops to Iraq.

"I spoke with the deputy secretary of defense this morning," Rumsfeld said. "He had just completed a call with military commanders in Iraq, and they reiterated their belief that the size of the forces in Iraq is appropriate, and I would just reiterate the fact the president said we would have the force necessary to get the job done."

The Bush administration's view is that it is not possible to put enough troops on the ground to ensure security in all places and that success will best be achieved by having an Iraqi security force, officials said.

"More troops would just mean more targets," said one official.

Other administration officials said they are considering accelerating the training and deployment of Iraqi security personnel.

There was no indication of any timetable for the stepped-up effort. Officials said it would involve training more personnel to man an Iraqi civil defense force and additional security forces to guard key infrastructure such as pipelines, government buildings and industrial facilities.

The U.N. Security Council, in a statement read late Wednesday by the council president, Syrian Ambassador Mikhail Wehbe, condemned the attack on the U.N. building in Baghdad and reaffirmed "its determination to assist the Iraqi people to build peace and justice in their country and to determine their own political future by themselves."

About 350 U.N. staff members and others attended a candlelight vigil to remember the bombing victims Wednesday night in the shadow of the U.N. building in the Dag Hammerskjold Plaza.

"It is wonderful that as a family, we come together and take the time to mourn them," Annan said.

Annan said that while Tuesday's bombing was not the first time the United Nations and its workers have come under attack, it was "the first time the blue flag has been attacked so aggressively" in U.N. history.

UNICEF, which lost a staff member in the attack, organized the vigil. The crowd sang along to "Amazing Grace" and John Lennon's peace anthem, "Imagine."

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr contributed to this report.


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