A ranking Soviet envoy left Baghdad Saturday with assurances that some of the 5,000 Soviet citizens in Iraq will be allowed to go home but apparently without a breakthrough in finding a peaceful settlement to the gulf crisis.
Also Saturday, in another indication of the deep rift the gulf crisis has caused in the Arab world, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Jordan, the British Broadcasting Corp. said.Iraqi President Saddam Hussein met Friday with envoy Yevgeny Primakov, who reportedly gave him a message from President Mikhail Gorbachev that explained the Soviet position in the crisis and asked him to release the Soviet citizens.
"On instructions from the Soviet president, Primakov raised the question about the departure of Soviet specialists from Iraq," the official Soviet news agency Tass said. "Hussein assured him that a group of Soviet citizens may leave for the USSR in the near future."
Iraq allowed four Germans to leave the country Friday.
Most of the 5,000 Soviets in Iraq are technicians and agriculturalists, but several hundred are military advisers who presumably have a store of sensitive information about Iraqi military capabilities.
The Soviet Union, formerly Iraq's largest supplier of arms, has not joined the U.S.-led multinational military force but has supported U.N. resolutions to force Iraq out of Kuwait through economic sanctions.
"During a lengthy meeting, the Soviet side stressed that the USSR is for a political settlement of the crisis, having in mind the return to a situation which existed before Aug. 2," Tass said.
But diplomats said the Soviet envoy left Baghdad without an apparent breakthrough.
In other developments Saturday:
-Italy pulled its two remaining diplomats out of its Kuwait embassy Saturday, nine days after Iraqi troops blocked off the embassy from the outside world. Ambassador Marco Colombo and his first secretary left Kuwait City for the Italian Embassy in Baghdad. But Foreign Ministry spokesman Vittorio Surdo said the embassy "remains open to all effect," and Italy has told Iraqi authorities they will be held responsible for looking after the premises.
-Diplomats said Saudi Arabia, which allowed Western troops to be deployed on its soil to guard against further Iraqi aggression, recalled its ambassador to Amman because Jordan had recalled its ambassador to the kingdom last month after the Saudis expelled 20 Jordanian diplomats for security reasons.
-An Iraqi official said Iraq was considering putting Kuwaitis on Iraq's National Council, or Parliament. Sadi Muhdi Saleh, speaker of the council, told an Iraqi newspaper "this matter is not complicated and only entails finding out the population statistics of Kuwait's election constituencies."
-Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Sharaa criticized Saddam Hussein for linking the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait with the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, saying the move will give Israel a chance to justify its control over the Arab areas.
-Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu was scheduled to arrive in Saudi Arabia on the last stop of a Middle East tour. Kaifu was expected to reassure King Fahd that his country supported the withdrawal of Iraq from Kuwait, even though it preferred to back up its sentiments with money rather than the deployment of Japanese personnel to the region. Japan, which received close to 72 percent of its oil from Iraq, has made a $4 billion commitment to the effort to oust Saddam from the tiny emirate.