Britain takes tough stand against Iraq

October 18, 1990|By Gilbert A. Lewthwaite | Gilbert A. Lewthwaite,London Bureau of The Sun

LONDON -- With Britain's military presence in the Persian Gulf still increasing daily, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is presenting the toughest policy toward Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of any of the U.S. allies in the showdown with Iraq.

Amid fears that the multinational anti-Iraq coalition might be fraying, there is not the slightest sign here of any wavering in the determination to face down Mr. Hussein.

The only alternatives still seen as available in London are his humiliation by withdrawal or his military defeat. Far from interest in compromise, there is acute unease over what one official termed "invidious attempts" at reaching a negotiated settlement.

"I think there is distress over any attempt to find some kind of negotiated solution. I don't think that is welcome at all. The solution is for Saddam Hussein to get out of Kuwait," said a Thatcher confidant yesterday as the 11,000 troops accompanying the 7th Armored Brigade continued to arrive in Saudi Arabia.

The official said that any negotiations on regional security in the gulf after Iraq's withdrawal should be undertaken "without prejudice to [trials for war] crimes and compensation" for Kuwait and other nations that have suffered because of Iraq's Aug. 2 invasion.

Mrs. Thatcher was talking about Nuremberg-style trials for Mr. Hussein and his top officers long before President Bush took up the idea. She again said in the House of Commons this week that the "brutal acts conducted daily by Saddam Hussein in Kuwait make it clear we really must deal with this man. He must be made answerable for these terrible crimes."

The British have been so tough that the Bush administration is trying to tone down a British resolution calling for war-damage reparations from Iraq to Kuwait to be presented to the United Nations.

Washington fears that Britain's uncompromising language would leave Israel open to demands for compensation for its occupation of Arab territory.

British officials make it clear that they remain totally committed to the U.N. resolutions calling for Mr. Hussein's complete withdrawal from Kuwait and the restoration of the former government.

They reject the idea of a partial withdrawal, which could leave Iraq with the gulf island of Bubiyan and the whole Rumailah oil field.

"The reality for Saddam Hussein is to get out of Kuwait, Kuwait as it was, not as he now proposes it should be," said a senior official.

"There is no compromise on U.N. resolutions. What we are concerned about is that there should be any suggestion that there is any settlement available which involves anything less than total fulfillment of the U.N. resolutions."

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