The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council reached agreement on a cease-fire resolution formally ending the Persian Gulf war, but it will still be a few days before the full panel votes on it.
Diplomats worked on the final language for the resolution Wednesday, and afterward Soviet U.N. Ambassador Yuliy Vorontsov told reporters "we put the final touch today."Vorontsov said the panel made "numerous changes" in the draft resolution that the United States has been pushing.
As the diplomats resolved the wording, the Bush administration said it would implement the U.N. resolution regardless of what Iraq likes. It also announced a willingness to meet with opponents of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Western diplomats said the permanent Security Council members were trying to settle remaining minor differences and a vote on the plan will probably come sometime next week.
In Kuwait, a U.N. team planned to start investigating reports of mistreatment of Palestinians.
Among other requirements, the U.N. cease-fire plan as proposed would order the destruction of Iraq's most dangerous weapons, ban all military sales to the country indefinitely and require Iraq to pay reparations to Kuwait.
The wording is some of the toughest ever proposed in a U.N. resolution, and Iraqi is not expected to like it. But the administration suggested that Iraq's response is unimportant.
"These resolutions, if adopted, should be implemented whether Iraq accepts them or not," State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler said.
Despite that attitude on the cease-fire, President Bush said it is unlikely Saddam's regime will survive the internal unrest, but Bush issued a pledge of non-interference despite an administration decision to meet with selected rebel leaders.
"This turmoil is not simply just historic unrest," Bush said Wednesday. "It is historic unrest plus great dissatisfaction," resulting from Saddam's record of torture of Iraqis and taking "his country into war."
While Tutwiler reiterated that the United States is "not for the dismemberment of Iraq," the government's willingness to meet with opposition leaders signaled administration interest in the overthrow of Saddam.