Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Tuesday appealed to Iraq to withdraw its forces from Kuwait, while at the same time Egypt reportedly sent the first elements of a mechanized infantry division to Saudi Arabia, along with light tanks and artillery.
The government interrupted radio and television programming to broadcast Mubarak's appeal to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Mubarak asked Hussein, "in the name of everything sacred on our Arab soil . . . in the name of Islam," to prevent "a destructive war that will devour everything."
Mubarak said Egypt--and no other government--has a serious proposal that might lead to a negotiated settlement of the Persian Gulf crisis. A Western diplomat said Mubarak's statement was propaganda aimed at polishing his image as a peacemaker.
Mubarak not only demanded that Iraq pull its troops out of Kuwait, but he also called on Iraq to compensate Egyptian workers who lost their jobs in Kuwait and Egyptians whose accounts in Kuwaiti banks have been frozen by Iraqi occupation forces.
For domestic purposes, diplomatic sources said, making these demands gives Mubarak a basis for sending troops to the gulf region.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, on the last stop of a four-day tour of Arab capitals, met for an hour with Egyptian Defense Minister Youssef abu Taleb to compare notes on the military situation.
Earlier, Cheney had met with Saudi Arabia's King Fahd and told reporters afterward that the United States is considering selling additional jet fighters, tanks, missiles and chemical warfare protection gear to the Saudis. He said Washington will speed delivery of military equipment already in the pipeline, including F-15 fighter planes and tanks.
"We obviously are looking at aircraft," he said. "We are looking at munitions that go on the aircraft. We are looking at chemical protection gear which the Saudis want. We are looking at the problem near-term and long-term, and we will do whatever is needed to defend the kingdom."
Cheney said Saudi Arabia is very worried that Iraq will use chemical weapons, as it has in the past against Iran and its own Kursih minority.
At a summit meeting of the Arab League nations on Aug. 10, Egypt led the move to create a pan-Arab military force in the gulf region. Since then, diplomats say, Egypt has sent 4,000 to 5,000 commandos and paratroopers, and Morocco has sent 600 to 1,000 troops. Syria announced Tuesday that it has sent more than 1,000 troops.
In the last two days, diplomatic sources said, Egypt has begun moving out a mechanized infantry division of 12,000 troops headed for Saudi Arabia. This force, along with light tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery, is traveling by air and sea.
"They already had 4,000 troops there, and two days ago they started to send the mechanized division--at what rate, I don't know," one diplomat said. "I understand they plan to send the entire division of 12,000 men."
The news agency Reuters quoted a Western observer as saying the Egyptians had asked "friendly countries to help them move artillery and armor to the gulf."
A military analyst said the Egyptians are taking their own tanks and artillery because "there's no way they are going to be integrated" with other units.
At the time of the invasion, about 1 million Egyptians were in Kuwait and Iraq, most of them working at menial jobs. They sent home about $1.2 billion a year.
The Egyptian government is clearly concerned about the loss of the money and the workers' safety.