Iraqi Troops to Pull Back at Dawn from Kuwaiti Border: Sources With AM-OPEC, Bjt
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Iraqi troops will begin pulling back from the border with Kuwait at dawn Thursday prior to direct talks to try to solve the two nations’ dispute over land and oil production, diplomatic sources said.
The sources, based in the Persian Gulf, said Wednesday that the development was viewed as a victory for the small sultanate of Kuwait in their propaganda campaign.
Kuwait insisted that Iraq withdraw what it said were massed forces at their common 100-mile border before Kuwait would sit down for negotiations this weekend with Baghdad, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The sultanate wanted Iraq, with more than eight times the population of Kuwait, to move away from its muscle-flexing, they said.
The sources credited intensive mediation by President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and King Fahd of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday night for lightening the crisis atmosphere. Mubarak kept in contact with the Iraqis and Kuwaitis into early Wednesday, they reported.
The announcement of direct Iraqi-Kuwaiti talks was made by Mubarak on Wednesday in Cairo amid an escalating anti-American campaign in the Iraqi media. The state-run newspaper said Iraq would not bow to U.S. pressure in the dispute.
In Baghdad, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein summoned U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie for talks. Government radio gave no details of the meeting.
In Kuwait, diplomatic sources said Saddam assured Mubarak that he would not use military force as long as Kuwait agreed to the following conditions: paying compensation for $2.4 billion in oil Iraq claims Kuwait stole, and holding direct talks on a border dispute.
The oil allegedly stolen was from the Rumaila oil field, which includes land claimed by both Iraq and Kuwait.
In addition, Iraq wants Kuwait to write off billions of dollars in loans it granted Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and it wants the reopening of a border air corridor.
The dispute flared last week when Iraq accused Kuwait of stealing the oil and alleged that Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates were causing a slump in oil prices by exceeding their OPEC production quotas.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries price-monitoring committee began meeting in Geneva on Wednesday to set prices for the rest of the year. Iraq wants a cut in production to force a $7 increase per barrel.
Mubarak met with leaders from Kuwait and Iraq on Tuesday. He told reporters in Cairo on Wednesday that direct talks would probably begin Saturday or Sunday in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.
″Two delegations from both sides will sit and discuss the problem. Of course it will take several meetings,″ he said. ″Only the two delegations with each other,″ he said when asked who would sponsor the meeting.
Mubarak also said Saddam had denied sending troops to the Kuwaiti border, despite reports to the contrary.
″What is present there was present before. I can tell you there is no intention from President Saddam to move any troops toward Kuwait,″ Mubarak said when asked when Iraqi troops would be withdrawn from the border.
Diplomats in Iraq and Persian Gulf states said that soon after the dispute erupted last week, travelers saw battlefield missiles, armored personnel carriers and tanks prominently displayed along the road from Iraq to Kuwait.
Diplomatic sources in Bahrain said Tuesday that a Washington Post report of 30,000 Iraqi troops at the border appeared to be correct.
In a show of support for Kuwait, the Pentagon announced Tuesday that U.S. warships and aircraft would hold a ″short-notice exercise″ 600 miles to the south in the Persian Gulf with a second small state, the United Arab Emirates.
In apparent reference to this, the Iraqi newspaper Al-Jumhuriya on Wednesday accused Kuwait of ″implementing an American-Zionist plot to show that America is playing the role of protector in the gulf.″
The paper said Kuwait ″should be aware that those who are threatening the interests of the Arab nation and conspire against it will not be protected by foreigners.″