In an unprecedented show of superpower cooperation, the Soviet Union and the United States today demanded that all countries cut off arms supplies to Iraq because of its invasion of Kuwait, and the Soviet foreign minister predicted that Iraq would soon withdraw from Kuwait.
The minister, Eduard A. Shevardnadze, and Secretary of State James A. Baker III read a joint statement demanding the arms cutoff to reporters after a hastily scheduled, one-hour meeting at a Moscow airport.
The U.S.-Soviet statement noted that the Soviet Union had cut off arms supplies to Iraq on Thursday and that the United States had frozen Iraqi assets. The two superpowers also demanded in the statement that Iraq withdraw its troops from Kuwait.
Shevardnadze also told reporters, "We have been assured that very soon the Iraqis will pull out their troops." He said the Soviets, until this week Iraq's largest arms supplier, learned this through contacts in Baghdad.
After Iraq overran Kuwait on Thursday, ostensibly because of a dispute over oil and a border region, it said its forces could withdraw within a week or two.
Shevardnadze said the Soviet leadership had sent a message to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein on Thursday, but he did not reveal the contents.
The U.S.-Soviet statement demanded that other countries stop sending arms to Iraq, but it did not mention by name the Middle East nation's other major weapons suppliers.
Shevardnadze opened the news conference by saying the Kremlin's decision to cut off its arms supplies to Iraq was difficult. "It wasn't so easy for us to make the kind of statement we made yesterday" because Soviet relations with Iraq had been good for decades, he said.
Shevardnadze said the invasion "contradicts the principles of new political thinking and the principles of civilized relations between nations."
A report on Soviet TV news said, "The statement contains an appeal to the international public to come out together in condemnation of the act of aggression." Washington and Moscow have condemned the invasion on their own.
Baker's plane arrived in Moscow from Mongolia today more than an hour late because a tire blew when it landed for refueling in the Siberian city of Irkutsk. Baker cut short his state visit to Mongolia for the Moscow talks and to return to Washington.
Before leaving the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator, Baker told reporters: "I just hope that the United States and Soviet Union could join in a joint statement regarding this matter. The fact, I think, of our doing that would be quite unique and rather significant."