The United States and Britain Monday rejected any move to lift the Jan. 15 deadline for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, and Saddam Hussein again told his nation to prepare for war.
The United Nations, meanwhile, said it was considering evacuating the families of U.N. staff and non-essential U.N. personnel from the Middle East.
Secretary of State James A. Baker III said if Iraq did not withdraw by the U.N. Security Council deadline, "they will be, in all probability, forced out." He spoke after meeting British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd in London.Hurd, who spoke to reporters with Baker, said Saddam must realize "one nation state does not trample and wipe out another nation state."
Baker ruled out any extension of the Jan. 15 deadline for Iraq to end its occupation of Kuwait.
"We are not interested in that, frankly," Baker said.
Responding to reports that Saddam might be willing to negotiate if the deadline is pushed back, Baker said: "We should not talk about postponing deadlines. This deadline is real. The only real chance for peace is if Saddam Hussein begins to understand this."
But Saddam spoke Monday not of diplomacy but of war. The Iraqi leader told senior aides that if fighting breaks out between Iraq and the U.S.-led multinational force, the war could extend to all Arab countries and beyond.
"The aggressors plan to make Iraq as the operation theater, but when the battle is launched Iraq will not be the only theater," Saddam said in an address broadcast on official Baghdad radio.
"Victory is near. I not only see it but deal with it," Saddam said. "Aggressors will be defeated not only on the land of Najid and Hijaz (Saudi Arabia) but everywhere they are."
About 430,000 U.S. soldiers are expected to be in the Persian Gulf by the end of the month, joining about 200,000 troops from 26 other nations. Iraq is estimated to have about 530,000 men in southern Iraq and Kuwait.
As the deadline approaches for Iraq to withdraw from the occupied emirate, the U.N. spokesman Francois Giuliani said today some United Nations personnel and familes might be withdrawn from the Middle East.
He said dependents and non-essential staff might be withdrawn from Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon, among other countries. He did not have any estimate of how many dependents and staff might be involved.
In a bid to avert war, an Arab diplomat in Baghdad said today Saddam and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat have asked French lawmaker Michel Vauzelle to seek a Security Council meeting to reconsider the U.N. resolution on force.
The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Vauzelle met with Saddam in the Iraqi capital on Saturday and saw Arafat in Tunisia on Sunday. Arafat flew to Baghdad today, Palestine Liberation Organization officials said.
Mitterrand already has suggested the Security Council meet again before the multinational force arrayed against Iraq commits itself to armed conflict. Germany and Italy have shown support for his diplomatic initiative.
On Sunday, Baker rejected a French proposal to link a pullout from Kuwait - which Iraq seized Aug. 2 - to an eventual Middle East peace conference. The Bush administration opposes linking Kuwait to the Palestinian question.
In London, Baker also said he would not go to Baghdad for talks with Saddam after his meeting Wednesday in Geneva with Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz. Baker is carrying a letter from President Bush for Saddam reported to include a warning of devastation if Iraq does not heed the U.N. order to quit Kuwait.
In Washington, Speaker Thomas S. Foley said the House will meet Thursday to begin consideration of U.S. policy in the gulf and will vote on the issue by Saturday. Foley said he expected as many as three votes on different resolutions dealing with whether the United States should go to war with Iraq.
Saudi Arabia's King Fahd, meanwhile, advised Saddam Sunday he could escape further punishment if he withdrew from Kuwait and expressed hope Baker would make progress at his meeting Wednesday in Geneva with Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz.
The Saudi monarch, in a rare chat to Western reporters after visiting some 5,000 allied troops, made no comment on his country's reported policy of wanting the United States to smash Saddam's army should hostilities erupt in the gulf.
Syria and Egypt, who together with Saudi Arabia constitute the key U. S. Arab allies in the fight against Saddam, have expressed opposition to the idea of destroying the Iraqi armed forces completely, preferring instead simply to topple Saddam.
Syria fears that the elimination of the Iraqi army would leave Israel the dominant military power in the region.
In other developments:
-A U.S. Marine driving a rented car through the desert in the dark Sunday crashed head-on into a 5-ton military truck, killing himself and leaving three other Marines injured, officials said.
-The Washington Post reported Monday that U.S. military commanders have decided against using nuclear weapons or chemical weapons even if Iraq launches poison gas or germ warfare attacks. The Post said the decision reflects the confidence of U.S. commanders in U.S. conventional forces.