The flags of 17 countries, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Israel, have been removed from the Radisson Hotel here and replaced with American flags.

"We felt that with all the things that were going on in the world and in our own country . . . that this would be the most meaningful way to show our patriotism," said Jay Lehman, hotel general manager.However, Lehman said the flags' removal was not intended to coincide with the United Nations' Jan. 15 deadline for Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait.

"I would have put up the American flags three or four days ago if I could have, but I didn't get everything scheduled. But it is a coincidence I feel good about," he added.

He said the hotel had flags representing Mexico, Bermuda, Canada and the Soviet Union, as well as Middle Eastern countries currently embroiled by the Persian Gulf crisis.

"It's not what we took down that has any meaning of all - it's what we put up," Lehman said.

The foreign flags were installed almost two years ago and were meant to be representative of countries that have liaison officers attached to nearby Hill Air Force Base, he explained.