Iraq Monday ordered 17-year-old males to report for military duty in the fourth major call-up of reserves in recent weeks. European officials said a meeting with Iraq's foreign minister might be in the works.
Saddam Hussein, in a New Year's message, condemned the United States and Saudi Arabia, where most of the multinational forces massed against him are deployed."In this confrontation, there have been those who betrayed Jesus Christ and who betrayed the principles and values of Islam, one luring and leading the other," the Iraqi president said. `May God curse them all."
Saddam's 15-minute message was carried Sunday on CNN, which provided English subtitles.
In Saudi Arabia, Vice President Dan Quayle Monday told Marines near the Kuwaiti border that "you have been patient enough and so has President Bush" in waiting for a peaceful solution.
"The fact is that a policy of indefinite patience only could lead to a policy of appeasement," which would make Saddam the victor in the gulf standoff, Quayle told the Marines.
Iraq invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2. The United Nations has set a Jan. 15 deadline for Iraq to withdraw from the emirate or face possible military action.
Quayle, who arrived in the region Sunday, pressed Saudi Arabia's King Fahd for more financial support for the U.S. military buildup. Following Quayle's meeting with Fahd late Sunday, a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there "seems to be no problem" on the issue.
On the diplomatic front, there was a flurry of European activity. European Community foreign ministers announced plans to meet Friday in Luxembourg in an emergency session on the gulf crisis.
Yugoslavia's foreign minister, Budimir Loncar, conferred by telephone with his Italian and German counterparts Monday, a day after meeting in Baghdad with Saddam, the Yugoslav news agency Tanjug reported.
Diplomats and news reports said the Iraqi president rejected an appeal by Loncar on behalf of the non-aligned movement to withdraw from Kuwait.
But Loncar was also quoted as saying he believed Saddam was interested in dialogue aimed at achieving a peaceful solution.
Luxembourg's foreign minister, Jacques Poos, said some states in the community might well push for a meeting between him and his Iraqi counterpart, Tariq Aziz. Luxembourg takes over the community's rotating presidency on Tuesday.
Poos said he would be ready to go to Baghdad if the foreign ministers made such a decision Friday. Asked if he thought he would be meeting Aziz in the near future, he replied, "Yes, I think so."
The community canceled a meeting with Aziz earlier this month after the United States and Iraq failed to agree on dates for direct talks.
Poos said in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. he expected there would be contact with Iraq either "through diplomatic channels or a private talk."
In Bonn, German officials speaking on condition of anonymity also speculated that European Community foreign ministers would discuss opening "indirect talks" with Iraq.
However, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jacques Santer said Monday his country would not suggest any new EC peace initiative. He said the meeting should reaffirm the EC solidarity with the international community against the invasion. Luxembourg takes over the community's rotating presidency on Tuesday.
Iraq's order for 17-year-old males to report for military duty came amid escalating preparations for war. The announcement, carried by the official Iraqi News Agency and Baghdad Radio, threatened those who fail to respond to the call-up with unspecified "legal action."
On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole and several other senior lawmakers used the talk-show circuit to urge Bush to explore all peaceful options in the gulf.
"The American people are not yet committed to war, and they want to make certain that President Bush has done everything, pursued every avenue for peace before the firing starts," Dole said on NBC's "Meet the Press."