Iraq Pledges Pullout : Troops in Kuwait Mass Near Saudi Border : Hussein to Meet Emir, Arab Chiefs

From Times Wire Services

An Iraqi government spokesman said today that Iraqi troops will begin withdrawing from Kuwait this Sunday, Baghdad Radio announced.

The spokesman said all the Iraqi troops that are in Kuwait will be withdrawn according to a timetable, the radio broadcast said.

The pledge was made on condition that there be no threats to Kuwaiti and Iraqi security.

The broadcast, which was also carried by a station calling itself the Provisional Government of Kuwait Radio, said the Al-Sabah royal family that ruled Kuwait for almost 250 years will never return to power.

"The bygone regime is finished forever and will never come back," the spokesman said.

Iraqi invasion forces in Kuwait were still massing near the border with Saudi Arabia today, and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein agreed to meet the Kuwaiti emir and other Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

Shelling and gunfire today shook portions of Kuwait's capital, indicating a last-ditch attempt by Kuwaiti forces to hold out against the more powerful Iraqi army.

Before the pullout announcement, President Bush said Iraq's occupation of Kuwait was a matter of grave concern and that expansion by Iraqi troops into Saudi Arabia or other Gulf oil states would be "unacceptable."

A NATO source said the United States has alerted allies that it has "contingency plans" if the Iraqis do push beyond Kuwaiti territory.

In Washington, the State Department said Iraqi troops were within 5 to 10 miles of the Saudi border. "Their presence there clearly raises significant concern," spokesman Richard Boucher said.

The department also said 14 Americans are now known to be missing in Kuwait and Washington believes that they are in Iraqi hands.

A Saudi Arabian official told Reuters news agency that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Saudi King Fahd and Jordan's King Hussein will attend the Sunday meeting with Saddam Hussein and the Kuwaiti emir. The five are expected to meet in the Saudi Red Sea port of Jiddah.

The emir of Kuwait, Sheik Jabbar al Ahmed al Sabah, took refuge in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, when Iraqi troops backed by 350 tanks and air cover swept into Kuwait before dawn and penetrated as far as Kuwait's southern oil fields near the border with Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest producer of oil.

A well-informed diplomatic source said there had been no movement of Iraqi troops across the Saudi frontier today. But some members of Congress expressed fears that Saudi Arabia could be Hussein's next target.

The NATO source, speaking in Brussels on condition of anonymity, said the United States informed allies during a special meeting "that it was aware that Iraq may have designs beyond Kuwait and informed the allies that it has drawn up contingency plans of action to respond to that eventuality." He said American officials did not explain what actions were under consideration.

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