Stubbornness reigns supreme in the Persian Gulf crisis.

The cancellation of the meeting between Iraqi Foreign Minister Aziz Tarig and President Bush is a major disappointment in the recent efforts of the administration to avert war.The argument is a silly one over dates. The United Nations' date for Iraq to be out of Kuwait is Jan. 15, and President Bush quite correctly believes that a Jan. 12th meeting between Secretary of State James Baker and Saddam Hussein is too close for comfort.

Nevertheless, Saddam remains stubborn. According to the official Iraqi news agency, "Iraq alone sets the proper appointments for its president to meet foreign officials."

Bush, for his part, claims that 15 different dates have been suggested in an effort to have a meaningful session prior to the U.N. deadline.

Given the presence of 400,000 troops in the Persian Gulf and President Bush's determination that Saddam withdraw completely from Kuwait by the deadline, the potential for war is frightening and very real.

When so many lives and so much destruction are potentially at stake, both American and Iraqi leaders should swallow their pride on dates and sit down and talk.

Bush says that if such talks materialize, they will be "to emphasize that the United Nations means business, not to make concessions."

Be that as it may, let's get going on the talks. As John Kennedy once said, "Let us not negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate."