President Bush, weighing new steps against Iraq, consulted with world leaders on the Persian Gulf crisis Saturday as a top Soviet official pledged Moscow would send troops into action if it were sanctioned by the United Nations.
White House officials said Bush's blitz of personal diplomacy with more than two dozen leaders was aimed at shoring up the consensus of global outrage over Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. The president will address the U.N. General Assembly on Monday.Bush's appointments included Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner and U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar.
He conducted the first six meetings Saturday, concluding with an evening session with Kaifu, whose government has pledged $4 billion to support the multinational force in the gulf and to aid the front-line states of Jordan, Egypt and Turkey.
Bush asked Kaifu to ensure that the money is disbursed quickly, and the Japanese leader pledged that it would be, officials from both sides said. Bush also urged that Tokyo increase the money it contributes to underwrite the cost of keeping U.S. forces in Japan.
Kaifu invited Bush to make a state visit to Japan early next year, and Bush readily accepted. The dates still must be worked out.
Shevardnadze, meanwhile, made a commitment to involve Soviet forces in any action against Iraq authorized by the United Nations.
The Soviet foreign minister said "we will comply with any decision of the Security Council. And that would include anything regarding the involvement of the Soviet troops under the flag, under the auspices, of the United Nations." He made his comments in a taped interview for broadcast Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz arrived in Jordan unexpectedly Saturday with a message from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein thought to be linked to Arab requests for his written commitment that Iraqi forces will eventually pull out of Kuwait.
Aziz met with King Hussein for several hours and lunched with him before flying back to Baghdad.