Tracking Number:  173929

Title:  "US Awaits Assurances Withdrawal Is Genuine." The White House called on Saddam Hussein to publicly and personally acknowledge defeat if he wants the Persian Gulf coalition to suspend hostilities. (910226)

Date:  19910226


02/26/91 1Ne Re U.S. AWAITS ASSURANCES WITHDRAWAL IS GENUINE (Meanwhile war continues, Fitzwater says) (700)

Washington -- The White House called on Saddam Hussein February 25 to publicly and personally acknowledge defeat if he wants the Persian Gulf coalition to suspend hostilities.

White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater, responding to a Baghdad Radio broadcast claiming that Saddam had ordered a withdrawal of Iraqi invaders from Kuwait, declared hours after the broadcast that there is no evidence of a withdrawal. He called on Saddam to accept the criteria for implementing United Nations resolutions spelled out by President Bush February 22.

To protect the lives and safety of coalition forces, he said, the war will go on, pending public word from Saddam in person.

Fitzwater noted that the Baghdad statement said the Iraqi forces would "fight their way out" of Kuwait. "We will not attack unarmed soldiers in retreat," Fitzwater pledged anew. "We will consider retreating combat units as a movement of war" and subject to its conventions.

Noting that coalition troops are now spread through Kuwait and part of Iraq, Fitzwater declared "we cannot sacrifice the safety of coalition forces" by permitting Iraqi soldiers to keep their weapons. "Laying down their arms is simple," he said, "they simply walk out" leaving behind tanks and motorized artillery.

Fitzwater's statement, issued just before a closed session of the U.N. Security Council, asserted that "the only way Saddam Hussein can persuade the coalition of the seriousness of his intentions would be for him personally and publicly to agree to the terms" of the February 22 proposal.

Fitzwater said Saddam must also "personally and publicly accept explicitly all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, including especially" Resolutions 662 and 674.

Resolution 662, adopted unanimously August 9, 1990, declared Iraq's annexation of Kuwait null and void and called on Baghdad to rescind its action. Resolution 674, adopted 13-0, declared Iraq is responsible to pay

GE 2 SFF201 reparations to Kuwait and others it has damaged as a result of the invasion and occupation of Kuwait.

Fitzwater said the coalition has "no evidence to suggest the Iraqi army is withdrawing. In fact, Iraqi units are continuing to fight."

He recalled the Iraqi ploy at Khafji earlier in the war, when Iraqi units turned the cannon of their tanks to the rear in a pretense of surrender, but fired on U.S. and Saudi troops when they moved into the open.

"We remember the Scud attacks (on Saudi Arabia) today," Fitzwater said, "and Saddam's many broken promises of the past. There are at least 22 dead Americans tonight who offer silent testimony to the intentions of Saddam Hussein."

Bush's February 22 plan called on Iraq to "authoritatively" notify the U.N. Security Council that it would withdraw from Kuwait within a week, and from Kuwait City within 48 hours, of noon February 23. It demanded Iraq inform the coalition of the location and nature of mines and booby traps it had placed on land and sea, and the immediate release of prisoners of war and others held against their will. Bush also demanded the quick return of Kuwait's former government.

Asked why the coalition has added the personal demand on Saddam to the February 22 terms, Fitzwater cited the nature of the Radio Baghdad broadcast and Saddam's "many broken promises." He explained that Saddam, while he "purports to be interested in a withdrawal," has failed to formally notify either the United Nations or the United States.

Fitzwater said that if Saddam truly wants to withdraw, "we ask him to be up front publicly and let the whole world know exactly what his intentions are."

He said the Soviet Union -- which called the closed-door U.N. session -- has been "helpful" in attempting to obtain an Iraqi withdrawal. Moscow, although not a coalition member, voted for all 12 U.N. resolutions in its role as a permanent member of the Security Council. "Every discussion that President Gorbachev has had with us," Fitzwater said, has included a reassertion of the Soviet leader's "commitment to the U.N. resolutions." He added that a U.N. review "is acceptable to us." NNNN

File Identification:  02/26/91, PO-203; 02/26/91, WF-U01; 02/26/91, WF-U02; 02/26/91, EP-211
Product Name:  Wireless File; USINFO
Product Code:  WF; US
Thematic Codes:  1NE; 1UN
Target Areas:  AF; AR; EA; EU; NE
PDQ Text Link:  173929