A steam line connected to a boiler ruptured aboard the USS Iwo Jima in the Persian Gulf, killing eight sailors and seriously burning two others, and a Marine died when a vehicle overturned in Saudi Arabia, U.S. military officials said Tuesday.
President Bush summoned congressional leaders and his national security advisers to the White House Tuesday to discuss the military buildup in the region and again underscore his resolve to force Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from Kuwait.In Iraq, Saddam Hussein told his senior military advisers Tuesday to prepare for an attack by the United States and its allies in the next few days, an official Iraqi report said.
The Iraqi president urged "preparations for urban warfare and necessary measures to be taken in the event of combat in (Kuwait)," the Iraqi News Agency reported.
Tuesday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz said Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev had contributed to the search for a peaceful solution to the standoff.
"There were certain positive elements regarding the search for a peaceful solution and the recognition of the existence of a link between regional issues," Aziz told state-run Baghdad Radio.
Gorbachev, the winner of the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize, told reporters that war in the gulf is unacceptable and the crisis must be settled peacefully. Gorbachev, who met for two days with French President Francois Mitterrand, suggested Saudi Arabia work toward an "inter-Arab" solution.
Gorbachev's statement came the day after a Soviet envoy failed to win a promise from Iraq that it would end its nearly 3-month-old occupation of the gulf emirate.
The Palestine Liberation Organization welcomed Gorbachev's proposal. "There is a serious attempt going on now to reach an Arab solution to the gulf crisis," PLO official Nabil Shaath told reporters in Cairo. "And there has also been an encouraging Iraqi response."
At the Pentagon, Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Alan Dooley said steam leaked from the Iwo Jima's boiler system as the helicopter carrier left Manama, Bahrain, after a routine port call. The injured sailors were taken to the Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort.
The Iwo Jima, which arrived in the gulf Sept. 16 from its home port in Norfolk, Va., was heading for amphibious exercises, said Navy spokesman Cmdr. J.D. Van Sickle in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The ship is part of the U.S.-led international force dispatched to the gulf region after Iraq's Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait.
"Shortly after it got under way, the ship suffered a leak in a steam line, a rupture in a steam line in the boiler room," Van Sickle told CNN.In another accident, a U.S. Marine was killed and three others injured when a multipurpose "humvee" vehicle overturned during a night exercise in Saudi Arabia, a Marine spokesman in Washington said.
A Marine spokesman in Saudi Arabia said three other sailors were injured, one seriously, Monday when two 50-caliber rounds apparently were accidently fired into their vehicle as it approached a Marine outpost.
In all, 41 U.S. servicemen have died in accidents during Operation Desert Shield.
In France, the government protested the withdrawal of its diplomats from Kuwait. The Iraqi ambassador in Paris was given a note of protest saying French diplomats could not longer work in Kuwait because Iraq had besieged their mission. France reaffirms its embassy remains open in Kuwait city, despite the absence of people.
Iraq had demanded all embassies in Kuwait shift their personnel to Baghdad, on the grounds that Kuwait was part of Iraq. Most embassies that tried to remain open later were abandoned in light of power and water shortages, but the U.S. Embassy remains staffed by a few diplomats.
Also, an Iraqi Airways jet that brought 262 French citizens home from Iraq and Kuwait left for Baghdad with "a few tons" of medicine. The plane also carried three Iraqis who had been stranded in France, foreign ministry sources said.
In Washington, congressional leaders emerging from a meeting meeting with Bush said they had urged him to explore all other avenues for resolving the crisis and got no indication that U.S. military action was imminent.
"His patience is wearing thin," said Sen. William Cohen, R-Maine, one of several lawmakers who met for an hour at the White House with the president. But Cohen added, "for the time being, he's going to continue to pursue the course that we're currently on."
Cohen said, "there was no indication that we're at the near-break point," for moving from sanctions to military action against Iraq.
Secretary of State James Baker, in a speech in Los Angeles, said Saddam is "hell-bent on a revival of hot war" in the Middle East. Baker said the United States "will not rule out a possible use of force if Iraq continues to occupy Kuwait."
In another development Tuesday, Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi urged Moslems to boycott holy places in Saudi Arabia as long as American forces are deployed there.
He told a conference of Moslem leaders they should also put pressure on Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait, predicting that a catastrophic war was inevitable otherwise.
"We Moslems cannot perform the Haj (annual pilgrimage) or the Umra (the mini-pilgrimage). There should be a total Moslem strike for one year, two years, as long as American troops stay in Saudi Arabia," he said.