Peace came in the simplest of surroundings. The generals gathered in a tent by an airstrip, seated around a plain rectangular redwood table.
There was little pomp or ceremony, but there was a great sense of the significance of the moment."This is a historic day," said the U.S. commander and chief delegate, Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, as he entered Sunday's truce talks.
"I put the table up. It's going into the Smithsonian," said Maj. Kathy Stinson, of Wheaton, Md., the protocol officer for the VII Corps who helped arrange the meeting.
In the sands outside the tent, hundreds of anxious GIs kept a vigil, crowding around an American flag.
Afterward, the soldiers listened carefully as Schwarzkopf told a news conference of more than 60 journalists that the Iraqis agreed to make sure their forces do not come into contact with the Americans.
Schwarzkopf said he had extracted everything he wanted from the Iraqi delegation. Inside the tent, he reportedly told jokes to lighten the mood, even drawing smiles from the Iraqis.
At the news conference, he at least twice prompted the joint Arab commander, Saudi Lt. Gen. Khalid bin Sultan, in his answers to journalists. "Don't go into the details on this," he told the Arab commander.
In a show of force as well as security, Schwarzkopf ringed the base with Patriot missile launchers, tanks, armored vehicles and Apache helicopters armed with deadly Hellfire rockets.
Nearby stood "Scud Mountain," so named by GIs because it was believed to be a site for launches of the Iraqi ballistic missile.
"I'm not here to give them anything," Schwarzkopf said before entering the two-hour meeting. "I'm here to tell them exactly what we expect them to do."
He warmly embraced Kuwaiti Maj. Gen. Jaber al-Sabah and told him, "Congratulations."
"Thank you very much indeed, sir," the Kuwaiti general said.
"There's nothing to thank us for," Schwarzkopf replied. "It was a team effort."
When the Iraqi delegation of seven generals and a colonel arrived, they looked grim and pained.
They had driven to a checkpoint just outside the Safwan base, just across the Kuwait border and there were picked up by American escorts who were heavily armed.
Only two days earlier, the Americans had taken over their territory. Capts. Ken Pope, of Lenoir, N.C., and Michael Bills of Springfield, Va., had led armored columns to the brink of a shootout with an Iraqi brigade dug in at the base.
But with bluff and bravado, the two captains talked the Iraqi brigade commander into leaving. A large sign was posted at the entrance: "Welcome to Iraq. Courtesy of the Big Red One" - the U.S. First Infantry Division.
The Iraqi generals were searched and screened with a metal detector in another tent away from the press, so they would not be photographed.
"I don't want them embarrassed," Schwarzkopf told another general. "I don't want them humiliated."
What he did want was peace on his terms. And he got it.
Key terms of allied-Traqi agreement to end war
Here are key terms worked out Sunday between allied and Iraqi military commanders for a permanent end to fighting in the Persian Gulf war:
- Release of prisoners, including both military and civilian captives of all nationalities, to be worked out with the International Red Cross and with an immediate "symbolic release."
- Identification by Iraq of the location of all mines and booby traps in Kuwait and in the Persian Gulf. Some information was turned over at the meeting.
- Procedures for keeping Iraqi and allied forces separate in occupied Iraq to avoid further clashes.
- Withdrawal of all allied troops from Iraq when, but not before, a permanent cease-fire is agreed upon and Iraq complies with all pertinent U.N. resolutions, including rescinding its annexation of Kuwait and agreeing to pay war damages.