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Mideast Crisis Is ‘Explosive'--Gorbachev

From Associated Press

President Mikhail S. Gorbachev said today that the military buildup in the Persian Gulf “makes the situation explosive, very dangerous.”

“We have to act responsibly, all of us, to prevent a large-scale conflict,” Gorbachev told a rare news conference in Moscow.

Gorbachev did not specifically criticize the United States, which is committed to send up to 250,000 troops to Saudi Arabia.

But he urged a diplomatic rather than a military solution to the conflict that began with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on Aug. 2.

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The U.S. deployment in Saudi Arabia was permissible under the terms of the U.N. Charter, he said, but “we have to be aware . . . (that a military intervention) is always fraught with unpredictable consequences.”

The Soviet Union voted in favor of a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force to impose sanctions against Iraq but has balked at joining a U.S. naval blockade.

Asked whether he thinks the United States will keep its forces in the gulf, Gorbachev said, “I don’t think that the U.S. leadership, after political solutions have been found, will retain” troops in Saudi Arabia.

The basis of the Soviet position, the Soviet leader said, is that “we cannot accept the annexation of Kuwait. It is unacceptable.”

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Gorbachev also strongly criticized Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein for using military force rather than diplomacy.

“Only those who think illogically can reject such a (peaceful) solution,” Gorbachev said. “I include the president of Iraq in that number.”

He denied assertions by some that the Kremlin preference for a diplomatic rather than a military solution indicates that the Soviet Union is slipping from superpower status.

“Some people think we lose our prestige and reputation. It is not so,” he said.

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