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Iranian Foreign Minister Due in Moscow to Discuss Gulf War

February 14, 1991

MOSCOW (AP) _ Iran’s foreign minister will come to the Soviet Union on Friday - two days before his Iraqi counterpart - for talks on the Persian Gulf War with President Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Vitaly Churkin, speaking today at a news conference, would give no other details about the forthcoming talks other than to say officials were ″cautiously optimistic″ that Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz had agreed to come.

Churkin said Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati would leave Moscow before Aziz’s arrival Sunday.

″We have no strategy that would go beyond the U.N. Security Council resolutions,″ Churkin said. ″Our objective is, as we see it, to persuade Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait, that there is no other way out.″

When asked whether the Kremlin was trying to become a mediator in the war, Churkin repeated Soviet Foreign Minister Alexander Bessmertnykh’s assertion earlier in the week: ″The Soviet Union is a mediator between war and peace.″

Gorbachev and Bessmertnykh met today in Moscow with Kuwait’s foreign minister, Sabeh Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah. They assured him they supported implementation of the United Nations resolutions calling for an unconditional Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, al-Sabah told reporters.

″We’re happy with the Soviet meeting,″ the Kuwaiti minister said.

Asked whether Kuwait would consider any compromises to end the fighting, al-Sabah said: ″I would like to make it clear that until Iraq withdraws, there can be no cease-fire.″

Iran has been among nations seeking a settlement to the war. Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Belonogov went to Iran earlier this month, and Velayati’s trip to Moscow was seen as an indication of cooperation between the Soviets and Iranians.

Diplomats have said the plan calls for an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, removal of the U.S.-led allied forces, and stationing of Islamic peacekeeping forces as a buffer between Kuwait and Iraq.

The Kremlin opened a dialogue with Baghdad earlier this week, calling on decades of good will amassed between Moscow and Baghdad during their decades- long alliance. Gorbachev’s Middle East envoy, Yevgeny Primakov, met with Saddam in Baghdad on Tuesday.

″Some rays of hope, encouraging more optimistic thinking, are certainly there,″ Primakov said upon returning to Moscow on Wednesday night.

At the same time, he said ″it would be premature″ to state that Saddam has fundamentally changed his insistence on retaining control of Kuwait.

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