Everyone agrees that Iraq has until midnight Jan. 15, to obey U.N. Security Council resolutions requiring it to withdraw from Iraq. The problem is, there's no agreement on whether the deadline is to begin at midnight Eastern Standard Time or Iraqi time.

It makes an eight-hour difference.In Taif, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III told American combat pilots Friday that "we pass the brink" of war with Iraq precisely at midnight next Tuesday.

"Just so there is no misunderstanding," Baker said, "let me be absolutely clear: We pass the brink at midnight, Jan. 15."

But Baker's precise terms left a question whether he meant midnight in the Persian Gulf or in Washington.

At first, U.S. officials traveling with Baker in Cairo said they did not know for sure. But a few hours later they said the deadline was Tuesday at midnight Eastern Standard Time or 5 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time Wednesday.