Persian Gulf peace activists, including an American group led by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, are arriving in Iraq to join an anti-war camp on Baghdad's "Honeymoon Island," a popular romantic spot for visitors.
The "world peace and friendship camp" has been organized as part of Baghdad's campaign to avoid war over its conquest of Kuwait.A spokesman said Clark, who was attorney general under President Lyndon Johnson then became an anti-Vietnam War activist, arrived Saturday in Baghdad.
The official Iraqi news agency quoted Clark as telling the organization's chairman Adnan Daoud Salman in a late evening meeting, "Most of the American people do not want war and the peace movement in the United States will escalate its activities to prevent the eruption of war in the gulf region."
A spokesman for Iraq's Friendship, Peace and Solidarity Organization said Italian, Japanese and Swedish activists had arrived Saturday with more expected from countries including Belgium, Britain and the Netherlands.
The organization said participants were striving "to prevent imperialist forces from launching an aggression on Iraq and to expose the ill intentions of these aggressive forces."
In London, British anti-war activists said they would set up camps in the desert of southern Kuwait and act as human buffers between Iraq's army and any invasion by the U.S.-led forces in Saudi Arabia.
But the main camp, to be opened Monday, is not in Kuwait but on Aaras Island in a bend of the river Tigris in southern Baghdad, an area locally known as "Honeymoon Island" and a site normally used by tourists and campers.
An Iraqi Embassy spokesman in London said their participants would be permitted to enter Iraq and stay indefinitely, but there was no confirmation of this in Baghdad.
The planned camps in the desert are more serious.
Veteran peace activist Pat Arrowsmith said in London Friday the activists were "prepared to be steamrollered over by tanks. We are prepared to be gassed if it comes."
Yusuf Islam, former pop singer Cat Stevens who converted to Islam, associated himself with the activists, who call themselves the Gulf Peace Team.
But the spokesman in Baghdad told Reuters he had no information that Yusuf was taking part.
Islam visited Baghdad last month and secured the release of several British Moslems held hostage in Iraq.
Britain's Foreign Office had no direct comment on the camps. But a spokeswoman reiterated advice to Britons not to travel to Iraq, saying a peaceful solution lay in Iraq withdrawing from Kuwait unconditionally, restoring the Kuwaiti government and releasing all hostages.