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GULF WATCH: Day 147 : A Daily Briefing Paper on Developments in the Crisis

Military Front: U.S. military commanders in Saudi Arabia said there are no signs that Iraq is preparing to pull its troops out of Kuwait by the Jan. 15 deadline imposed by the U.N. Security Council. One Army official said intelligence reports indicate instead that Iraq is preparing for battle.

U.S. sailors trying to search a sugar-laden Iraqi ship in the Arabian Sea fired warning shots when the crew and women peace activists tried to block the search. The sailors fired pistols in the air as a warning and used smoke and noise-making grenades to control the crowd aboard the 11,333-ton vessel, the Ibn Khaldoon. The captain finally agreed to divert the ship to an unidentified port to discharge the cargo.

Iraq test-fired a surface-to-surface missile, aiming it away from the multinational forces massed in the gulf. A similar test-firing in early December caught the allied forces off guard and triggered a heightened alert for some of the U.S. forces.

Diplomatic Front: Breaking a weeklong silence, U.S. and Iraqi officials have resumed contacts in an apparent effort to resolve obstacles to proposed high-level talks, according to Western diplomats in the Persian Gulf.

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The nature of the renewed contacts was not immediately known, and the State Department denied a report in an Israeli newspaper that Secretary of State James A. Baker III would visit Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in Baghdad on Jan. 9.

Terrorist Front: Concerned about possible terrorist attacks if war breaks out in the Persian Gulf, the State Department ordered the evacuation of non-essential U.S. diplomatic personnel and dependents from Jordan and Sudan.

Countries From Which Americans Are Being Evacuated:

* Jordan

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* Sudan

* Yemen

* Mauritania

* Saudi Arabia

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* Bahrain

* Qatar

* United Arab Emirates


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