Iraq agreed Wednesday to withdraw its troops from the northern Iraq city of Dohuk and allow members of a multinational coalition to enter the area to encourage Kurdish refugees to return to their homes.
Lt. Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, commander of the coalition, announced the agreement following negotiations with Iraqi Lt. Gen Abu Firas Saber.Meanwhile, the Bush administration said that most sanctions could be lifted against Iraq if it got rid of Saddam Hussein, except those curbing its military power.
Appearing before a House Appropriations subcommittee Wednesday, Secretary of State James Baker denounced the Iraqi dictator as a "pariah" and said the administration will continue to isolate his regime.
"That means we will never normalize relations with Iraq as long as Saddam remains in power," Baker said. "That means maintaining U.N. sanctions in place so long as Saddam remains in power."
"And that means Iraqis will not participate in post-crisis political, economic and security arrangements until there is a change in regime," he said.
The coalition team in Iraq, composed of medical and engineering personnel, a small security force and a command and control element, will enter the city on Friday, Shalikashvili said.
"It is our expectation that the police and the Iraqi military forces will have withdrawn by that time," he said.
The Iraqi government will maintain a checkpoint at the entrance to the city manned by Kurdish members of the Iraqi police to prevent Kurds from bringing weapons into Dohuk.
A team of coalition technicians surveyed the city Monday and determined it would be able to support some returning citizens, but that there could be shortages of food and water.
"We agreed that we will re-evaluate weekly as the work progresses and then see how quickly we can get the work done," Shalikashvili said.
The refugees and several other million Kurds fled their homes in northern Iraq after they came under attack by Iraqi troops at the conclusion of the Gulf War.