President Bush, attempting to overcome Soviet doubts, Tuesday renewed his behind-the-scenes search at the Paris summit for international agreement on use of military force against Iraq.
The 34 heads of state meeting here on the post-Cold War order scheduled a closed-door afternoon session to discuss the Persian Gulf crisis.Bush asked Secretary of State James A. Baker to meet with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze later Tuesday, after his own session with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev the night before failed to produce a breakthrough.
The gulf crisis has overshadowed the unprecedented summit of the 34-member Conference on Cooperation and Security in Europe.
Hungarian Prime Minister Jozsef Antall told the summit Monday that he hoped "the conditions for the complete dissolution of the Warsaw Pact" will be created by early 1992. "We are happy that the participating states of the (Warsaw Pact) have shown agreement over the dissolution of the military organization."
Antall is the first Warsaw Pact country leader to talk about the complete demise of the pact and to offer a deadline. In the past, the leaders have spoken only of ending the Warsaw Pact's military function.
Against the backdrop of the conference, leaders held a flurry of meetings to discuss how best to get Iraq out of Kuwait. Gorbachev met with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who has advocated military action against Iraq. Thatcher also met with French President Francois Mitterrand, who like Gorbachev has counseled patience.
Bush was meeting with Turkish President Turgut Ozal. Turkey is letting American bombers use its airfields but has expressed little enthusiasm about a military confrontation with its neighbor.
Bush seeks backing for U.N. resolution
Bush is trying to rally support behind a new U.N. Security Council resolution that would authorize military action against Iraq, presumably if it does not end its occupation of Kuwait by a specified date.
Baker has been busy presenting the administration's case to the 15 members of the Security Council. Still, the administration has been having a hard time finding agreement on the language for such a resolution, especially given Gorbachev's reluctance to get on board.
During a picture-taking session with Bush Monday, Gorbachev was asked by reporters whether he favored force or patience toward Iraq.
"I think we all need patience," the Soviet leader replied, "but that does not mean that we are going to weaken or retreat" from earlier U.N. resolutions calling for an unconditional Iraqi withdrawal.
"We certainly will seek to resolve that situation and we must be firm in our position on that," he added.
Nonetheless, administration aides said Tuesday that the White House remains hopeful progress can be made toward the wording of a new resolution. But on the eve of Bush's visit to the Middle East an agreement has yet to materialize.
Bush will jet to Saudi Arabia
After the 34-nation summit on European security wraps up Wednesday, Bush will fly to Saudi Arabia for a Thanksgiving visit with troops deployed in the Persian Gulf region.
The gulf crisis was the chief topic in 2 1/2 hours of talks between Bush and Gorbachev during Monday's opening day of the summit called to discuss the future of Europe in the post-Cold War era.
The conference resumed Tuesday, to be capped by a star-studded ballet performance and dinner in the famous Hall of Mirrors at Versailles palace.
Amid the celebration of peace and the collapse of military rivalries in Europe, there was jarring news from the Middle East.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said he would send an additional 250,000 troops to Kuwait, nearly doubling the occupation force in the oil-rich emirate. The buildup apparently was in response to Bush's decision to augment the 230,000 U.S. troops now in the Persian Gulf region by 200,000 personnel.
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater called Saddam's announcement "another instance of him thumbing his nose at the United Nations." Baker reportedly will take his lobbying to Yemen and beyond later this week. Yemen is the only Arab nation in the U.N. Security Council and has in the past shown sympathy for Iraq. It will assume the council's rotating presidency in December.
Bush deflected questions at the opening of Monday's meeting. He said he was pleased with the way the superpowers have cooperated on the gulf issue in the United Nations and "I have no reason to be anything other than very satisfied."
Still, he and Gorbachev canceled a joint news conference that was supposed to have concluded their meeting.
After the meeting, Fitzwater said, "Everyone agrees that you cannot rule out that option" of military action. Yet, he said, the United States has not decided to actually seek the resolution on military force.
Gorbachev's spokesman, Vitaly Ignatenko, said the two leaders "came to the very important conclusion that not all the possibilities have been exhausted and the U.N. resolutions (already approved) still have to be tried.
Meanwhile, Saddam Tuesday asked his parliament to free all German hostages because of the history of excellent ties between Germany and the Arab world, Baghdad radio reported. The 250-member National Assembly was scheduled to hold a special session Tuesday afternoon to approve the measure, and Iraqi officials said passage was certain.
Summit set for next year
Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev and President Bush are planning a January summit in Moscow, U.S. and Soviet officials said Tuesday. U.S. officials in Washington said they were confident obstacles to a long-range nuclear weapons treaty could be resolved in time for the meeting and that setting a summit date could spur on negotiations. Bush has said he would only go to Moscow when a Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was ready for signing.
U.S. moving too fast, poll says
An increasing number of Americans believe President Bush is moving too fast toward military action in the Persian Gulf, according to a New York Times-CBS poll.
Forty-seven percent of those polled said the Bush administration has been too quick to get U.S. forces involved and has not been diligent enough about seeking diplomatic solutions, according to the poll.
Only 38 percent felt that way back in August. Just over half - 51 percent - of those polled expect the United States to fight Iraq.
Less than a third of those polled - 31 percent - felt that protecting the oil supply was a good enough reason to go to war.
Slightly more - 35 percent - felt U.S. military action against Iraq would be justified to defend Saudi Arabia and restore the Kuwaiti government.
More than half - 54 percent - said that stopping Saddam Hussein from developing nuclear weapons was a good enough reason to wage war.