Iran's foreign minister said his country and Iraq have achieved a breakthrough in their bid to end the 8-year-old Persian Gulf war, but radio reports in the region said Iraqi officials were surprised by the announcement.
Radio reports monitored in Kuwait quoted an unnamed Iraqi official as saying his government was "astonished" to hear Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati's claim, carried by the official Islamic Republic News Agency, or IRNA, that the two adversaries had broken a six-week impasse in U.N.-sponsored peace talks.Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Nizar Hamdoun stopped short of saying Iraq rejected proposals put forward by U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, but he expressed surprise at Velayati's statement.
Hamdoun said only that Iraq is considering the measures aimed at restarting the stalled talks, according to the radio reports. He said the U.N. proposals would be discussed at the next round of negotiations, for which a date or place has not been set.
The developments came as Western diplomats said they feared a possible renewal of hostilities along the 750-mile-long Iranian-Iraqi border and an end to the cease-fire in the war.
IRNA quoted Velayati as having said the two gulf powers agreed in principle to Perez de Cuellar's proposals. IRNA said Velayati made the comments to reporters Friday aboard a plane to Tehran after a round of talks in New York with his Iraqi counterpart, Tariq Aziz.