URGENT Gulf War Cease-Fire Date Set for Aug. 20
UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Iran and Iraq will begin a cease-fire on Aug. 20 in their 8-year-old Persian Gulf war, Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar announced today.
The U.N. chief made the announcement to the Security Council, climaxing several days of intense diplomacy that ended a deadlock in nearly two weeks of U.N.-mediated truce talks.(1604EDT) ..........................................................................
Iran and Iraq will begin a cease-fire on Aug. 20 in their 8-year-old Persian Gulf war, Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar announced today.
The U.N. chief made the announcement to the Security Council, climaxing several days of intense diplomacy that ended a deadlock in nearly two weeks of U.N.-mediated truce talks.
He said face-to-face negotiations between the two sides would begin Aug. 25 in Geneva under U.N. auspices. The war has killed or wounded 1 million people since it began in September 1980.
″In exercise of the mandate given me by the Security Council, I now call upon the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Iraq to observe a cease- fire and discontinue all military activity on land, at sea and in the air, as of 0300 GMT Aug. 20 (11 p.m. EDT Aug. 19),″ he said in a statement to the 15- member council.
″I note that military activity has decreased in the past few days,″ the U.N. chief said. ″I wish on this occason to appeal to all concerned in the strongest possible terms to exercise the utmost restraint and to refrain forthwith from any hostile action on land, at sea and in the air in the period of entry into effect of the cease-fire.″
But the secretary-general did not announce the other crucial dates in a U.N. peace plan: The dates for a troop withdrawal, prisoner exchange and the establishment of a tribunal to assess responsibility.
Those dates are to be announced later.
As he made his announcement, the envoys of Iran and Iraq were both in the council chamber. It was the first time the two were present together in the council since the war began. Iran has been boycotting council sessions.
Ambassador Mohammed Ja’afar Mahallati of Iran and Ambassador Ismat Kittani of Iraq did not acknowledge each other’s presence, although they passed within a few feet of each other.
″I wish to express my deepest appreciation of the efforts made by the parties, the members of the Security Council and others over the past two weeks,″ Perez de Cuellar said. ″I am confident that I shall be able to count on the continuing cooperation of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Iraq.″
The Security Council was to convene Tuesday to authorize the 350-man U.N. peacekeeping force which will supervise the cease-fire. Perez de Cuellar said earlier that it would take about two weeks to deploy the peacekeeping force from 24 nations that will monitor the truce along the 730-mile front.
A report released today by the secretary-general estimated the cost of the force at $74 million for the first six months.
In Tehran earlier today, President Ali Khamenei declared the war is ″apparently coming to a close″ and said international public opinion had forced Iraq to drop its demand for direct talks before a cease-fire.
But he said in a speech to a gathering of Islamic scholars and specialists in Third World issues that he doubts Iraq is genuinely interested in peace.
The U.N. peace talks began after Iran reversed itself and announced July 18 that it would accept Security Council Resolution 598. Provisions in the resolution include troop withdrawal to international boundaries and repatriation of prisoners taken in the war.
The cease-fire date announcement came after Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati of Iran delivered what amounted to Iran’s formal acceptance of the compromise proposal Saturday by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that a cease- fire be followed rapidly by direct talks on a lasting peace.
The U.N. peace talks had faltered over Iraq’s demand for face-to-face talks before a cease-fire.
Iraq’s compromise accepted, Kittani declared Sunday as he entered a meeting with Perez de Cuellar: ″It’s a very good day. I think we are on the road to peace.″
As he left, Kittani said he had a good meeting, but when asked if he was satisfied, he said, ″That’s something else.″
Before offering the compromise, Iraq said direct talks were needed to test Iran’s intentions. It accepted Resolution 598 last year and said it would not now be stampeded into a cease-fire.
Badly battered by a string of battlefield defeats, Iran had been pressing for an immediate truce. In the past few weeks, Baghdad has launched repeated attacks in which Iran says at least 1,700 of its people were injured by chemical weapons.
Iraq had been urged by many nations to compromise and agree to an early cease-fire and peace settlement. But a major factor, U.N. diplomats said, was the Security Council’s assurance to Iraq last week that its five permanent members would guarantee a peace settlement.
The five - the United States, Britain, China, France and the Soviet Union - promised Iraq that they would insist that Iran not exploit a truce.
″We’ve made another step on the road to peace,″ U.S. Ambassador Vernon A. Walters said after the Security Council met with Perez de Cuellar on Sunday. ″There are hurdles of tremendous resentment and bitterness of eight years of war, but in physical steps to end the war, we are moving rapidly.″
The British ambassador, Sir Crispen Tickell, said: ″We are focusing now on logistical arrangements that should follow a cease-fire.″
Asked if there were major problems, he replied: ″It’s much more a question of logistics, sorting out the many problems attendant on setting up this (peacekeeping) force.″