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GULF WATCH: Day 136 : A daily briefing paper on developments in the crisis : Diplomatic Front:

Accusing President Bush of lying, Iraq said there is no longer any chance that its foreign minister will meet with Bush on Monday as proposed, and insisted that it alone would set the date for any talks in Baghdad. Washington has rejected an Iraqi proposal for talks in Baghdad on Jan. 12, only three days before the U.N. Security Council deadline for withdrawal from Kuwait.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein told a Muslim delegation that if U.S.-Iraqi talks are ever held, the two sides should take up the Palestinian issue before addressing Iraq’s takeover of Kuwait.

The failure of the United States and Iraq to agree on dates for talks has moved the region closer to war, according to a group of Democratic senators touring U.S. troop positions in Saudi Arabia.

Military Front:

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A helicopter flying to the port of Houston for shipment to Saudi Arabia crashed in fog-shrouded Texas brushland, killing all three National Guard members aboard, military officials said.

Economic Front:

Noting that Operation Desert Shield is expected to cost $37 billion next year, House Majority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) and Rep. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) complained that America’s allies are not contributing their fair share. The key allies--Japan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Germany and South Korea--have pledged only $10.6 billion, or 29% of the estimated cost, the lawmakers said.

U.S. Forces in the Gulf:

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Troops: 260,000+

To be deployed soon: 140,000+

Tanks in Saudi Arabia: 700+

Tanks en route: 400

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Armored fighting vehicles: 300

Air Force planes: 300

Helicopters: 250

Navy aircraft: 200

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Navy planes en route: 200

Warships: 55


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