Iraq says it will never pull out of Kuwait, despite the U.S. order to ship additional troops to the Persian Gulf and Moscow's qualified consent to the use of force in the region.
In Moscow, a senior U.S. official said Friday that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Arab forces would fight alongside U.S. troops to free Kuwait. But the official said the extent of France's support is not known.Secretary of State James A. Baker III flew from Moscow to London Friday on his mission to strengthen allied resolve against Iraq's 3-month-old occupation of Kuwait. Baker will meet Saturday with French leaders in Paris.
Iraq's government-run newspaper said Friday that Iraq and France conducted secret talks that led to the release of more than 300 Frenchmen from Iraq.
The paper, Al-Jumhouriya, said the talk between Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz and former French Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson were endorsed by the French government. France has denied any deals were struck in exchange for release of the hostages.
Western officials have criticized efforts by former leaders - including Edward Heath of Britain, Yasuhiro Nakasone of Japan and Willy Brandt of Germany - to free hostages, claiming they help divide the anti-Iraq alliance.
Brandt was scheduled to leave Baghdad Friday night with 170 Westerners, including 120 Germans. Diplomats said five Americans were on the list.
In a more personal attempt to influence Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, 11 British women were headed to Baghdad Friday to seek the release of their captive husbands and relatives - against the advice of their government.
Iraq's ambassador to Washington, Mohamed Al-Mashat, called the new U.S. deployment plan "an unfortunate development."
"There is no reason for this force, or the previous force," he said Thursday on CBS's "America Tonight." "We haven't done anything to the United States.
"Believe you me, we will never surrender or capitulate," he said.
Iraq has deployed an estimated 430,000 soldiers in Kuwait and southern Iraq since invading its southern oil-rich neighbor Aug. 2 in a dispute over land, oil and money.
The invasion increased Iraq's share of world oil reserves to 20 percent and sent crude prices skyrocketing. The buildup of Iraqi troops near the border of Saudi Arabia prompted the Saudi government to allow the massive multinational deployment in its northern desert.
In Moscow, meanwhile, Baker accomplished his goal of gaining Soviet consent for the use of force should peaceful measures fail.
Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze said military might should not be ruled out but cautioned it should be used only under U.N. auspices.