After meeting for 2 1/2 hours with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar declined to predict whether war would break out in the Persian Gulf. “I’m always hopeful, or I couldn’t be secretary general,” Perez de Cuellar said, but he evaded detailed comment on the talks, on which many had pinned their waning hopes for peace.
Before the meeting, Hussein told a radio audience that occupied Kuwait would remain the 19th Iraqi province and said that it would be “the field of battle in which the people of the Arab nation will be liberated.”
Elsewhere, Saudi King Fahd and Libya’s Col. Moammar Kadafi appealed to Hussein to withdraw and spare his fellow Arabs.
The international coalition arrayed against Iraq is “well prepared politically, economically and militarily” as Tuesday’s U.N. deadline for Iraqi withdrawal approaches, Secretary of State James A. Baker III said after talks in Turkey.
U.S. officials reportedly asked Israel to show restraint even if Iraq follows through on a threat to attack Israel first in the event of war. “If Israel is attacked,” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens said, “we will use the legitimate right of any country that is attacked to respond.”
White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu warned Hussein that the United States will not be deterred by any “ploys” to delay the use of force if he fails to withdraw quickly from Kuwait.
Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell (D-Me.), who voted against the congressional resolution sanctioning the use of force, said Americans will bear an unequal share of the burden if war comes. “The casualties will be American; the cost will be American,” he said.
Turkey’s Armed Forces:
Troops near Iraqi border: 100,000
Paramilitary forces: 35,000
Troops designated for Saudi Arabia: 5,000
Tanks in region: 50
Combat aircraft: 50