President Bush and Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, saying they are losing their patience with Iraq's Saddam Hussein, announced Friday a "complete identity of views" on the gulf crisis, including the option of military force to remove Iraqi troops from Kuwait.
Bush and Mubarak emerged from 2 1/2 hours of talks on the Persian Gulf crisis, talking tough about dealing with Saddam.Bush said he and Mubarak have not given up on a peaceful solution, but he quickly added, "We are getting tired of the status quo and so is the rest of the world.
"We reviewed the situation in the gulf, and we agree while a peaceful solution brought about by sanctions is preferred, steps must be taken. There is complete identity of views between us on the need for Saddam to withdraw immediately without conditions. Partial solutions are out of the question," Bush said.
Mubarak fully endorsed Bush's proposal that military force be kept as an option against Iraq, but he sidestepped questions on whether Egyptian troops would be sent to fight alongside multinational forces.
"I'm not in a position to tell you the details. But we have our plan coordinated with all the forces there," Mubarak said.
Both leaders agreed Bush's scheduled meeting with Syrian President Hafez al Assad later Friday was a positive step toward settling the gulf crisis.
"Mr. Assad is lined up with us on the commitment of force," Bush said. "That doesn't mean we don't have differences with Syria . . . but they will be on the front line standing up against this aggression. I will work closely with all those standing up against this aggression."
Bush shrugged off Israel's criticism for his meeting with Assad, a foe of Israel and a supporter of terrorism.
"I'm focusing now on these meetings, and Syria is a part of this. This relates to the reversal of aggression, not only in the interest of the United States but to every country in the Middle East, and that includes Israel. I want to be sure we are solidly together," Bush said.
Mubarak said, "Syria is considered a key country, and we should not neglect her. President Assad is a key leader in this area. He is against the occupation of Kuwait. He has his forces in Saudi Arabia for the purpose of liberating Kuwait, and he should not be left out."
Assad has contributed 7,000 troops to the multinational force in Saudi Arabia. Bush also hoped to explore with Assad Syria's close ties with Iran in a move to enlist stronger support from Tehran against its neighbor and longtime foe.
Bush and Mubarak also agreed steps must be taken to keep Saddam in check after the gulf crisis is settled.
"After liberating Kuwait, there should be some kind of measure to keep this area stable and to avoid any more tension and any more war," Mubarak said.
Bush said solution of the crisis could clear the way for other issues to be discussed, including the Palestinian question.
"Once we set back this aggression . . . then I think it is clear we will have an opportunity to work more closely together. I would like to see a solution of the West Bank, for example. It opens up all kinds of possibilities for a new world order."
The president and Secretary of State James Baker are in a race against time to try to line up the 15 U.N. Security Council members to support military sanctions against Iraq if necessary.
They appeared to have made progress and possibly a breakthrough with the Soviet Union, but Baker struck out Thursday when Yemen told the United States it opposed the presence and possible use of force in the Persian Gulf region.
Yemen was important since it takes over the chairmanship of the Security Council Nov. 30.
After eight days on the road during his European-Middle East swing, Bush was exhausted and beginning to show the strain.
But he appeared to receive a big lift Thursday from the uniformed men and women he deployed in the gulf.
To please the troops, he ate two Thanksgiving dinners on visits to forward bases in Saudi Arabia, one of them nearly 80 miles away from the Kuwaiti border and considered risky.
He also joined the troops in religious services aboard the USS Nassau, a helicopter assault carrier.
The president, who is trying to maintain support on Capitol Hill, invited House Speaker Thomas Foley of Washington, Senate Democratic leader George Mitchell of Maine, Senate Republican leader Robert Dole of Kansas and House GOP leader Robert Michel of Illinois to tour the front with him.
Both Dole and Foley, appearing on the CBS "This Morning" program Friday, cautioned against translating the president's trip as a step closer to war with Iraq.
Dole said Bush "may have helped his cause," but added, "I don't think that means we're necessarily closer to war. I think it means we're prepared, we're going to be more prepared and the president's keeping his options open, as is Congress, I might add."
Foley said, "The president certainly, I think, is preparing an option that would be available to use U.S. forces in a more affirmative way."
Bush, Assad to meet
Swiss authorities activated emergency security measures Friday for the hastily arranged meeting in Geneva between President Bush and Syrian leader Hafez al Assad.
Airport officials said four giant Galaxy military transport planes carrying armor-plated limousines, helicopters and security personnel were unloaded at Geneva's Cointrin airport.
Swiss army and police units at and around the airport were reinforced. More than 200 U.S. Secret Service and other backup personnel are coordinating security with the Swiss.
Bush and Assad scheduled a two-hour meeting Friday evening at the sealed-off Holiday Inn adjacent to the airport.