Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf says the United States is close to establishing a permanent land base on Arab soil - a goal governments in the region had blocked for years.

The U.S. commander in the Persian Gulf said Sunday that the base would not include American ground forces. He also said that the American troops who remain in the gulf will go home after a permanent cease-fire is signed with Iraq. Nearly 100,000 of the 540,000 American troops sent to Operation Desert Shield have departed.Schwarzkopf said U.S. logistics troops could be in the gulf as long as eight to 10 months to help load up equipment.

The command, now based in Riyadh, plans to return soon to its headquarters in Tampa, Fla. But Schwarzkopf said Sunday: "There's a possibility we will be moving a forward headquarters element of Central Command over here. But's there's an awful lot of negotiations that have to go on, the locations have to be accepted and all the arrangements have to be made . . . we're certainly much closer to that now than we've ever been before."