Baker Denies Reports He Gave Iraq an Ultimatum
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Secretary of State James A. Baker III today denied reports he gave Iraq an ultimatum to get out of Kuwait in the next two weeks.
Reports by Israel army radio and stations in Luxembourg and Monte Carlo said Baker had asked his Chinese counterpart, Qian Qichen, to tell Saddam Hussein that U.S. forces would attack if he didn’t comply.
Baker met with Qian in Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday.
The Israeli report cited unidentified diplomatic sources in Cairo. RTL Plus television, a private station in Luxembourg, carried a similar story without citing a source. Radio Monte Carlo also reported a Baker ultimatum.
Asked to comment on the reports, Baker told reporters in Turkey: ″The fact is I did not have such a conversation with the Chinese foreign minister.″
Baker stopped in Turkey on his weeklong tour of the Persian Gulf region to cement support for the anti-Iraq forces and to discuss military options.
In its report, RTL Plus said of the reported ultimatum, ″Within 14 days Iraq must pull out of Kuwait. If not, the United States together with Saudi Arabia want to attack the gulf state.″
Qian indicated to Baker on Tuesday that Beijing would not stand in the way of any U.N. vote authorizing a military strike to force Iraq out of Kuwait, U.S. officials said. China is one of the five U.N. Security Council members with veto power over resolutions.
But Qian, who met for two hours with Baker, did not explicitly approve sending troops into action and expressed hopes a peaceful settlement could be reached. ″We’ll have to wait and see,″ he told reporters.