Baker repeats position on Congress' role in gulf

October 19, 1990|By Fernando Goncalves | Fernando Goncalves,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- For the second day in a row, Secretary of State James A. Baker III expressed reservations yesterday on a proposal by some members of Congress to set up a special congressional group to consult with the administration on the Persian Gulf crisis.

Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Baker repeated a position spelled out Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: that the needed element of surprise would not allow the administration to wait for congressional approval before responding to an Iraqi act of aggression against U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia.

He reiterated that a measure of consultation has been maintained between the administration and the lawmakers but noted that, at the same time, "we do have concerns with respect to what happens in the event of provocation. We have concerns about operational security."

Representative William S. Broomfield, R-Mich., indicated support for Mr. Baker's position, saying that creating a formal mechanism of consultation "could distract from the broad context and the give-and-take required for consultation."

Members of Congress have expressed concern over the possibility of war breaking out in the Persian Gulf after Congress recesses, probably toward the end of this month.

The administration has stated that it will respond promptly to any act of provocation by Iraqi forces,and Mr. Baker said yesterday that the United States enjoys massive support from European countries and Arab states on the question of war.

The secretary of state also said there had been a good response from other countries on burden-sharing in the gulf, which had enabled the raising of $20 billion so far, but he indicated that if the crisis continued into 1991, new contributions would be necessary to sustain the gulf effort.

And Mr. Baker rejected any halfway solution to the gulf crisis.

"Well, I think you know our position on a partial solution," he said, adding that the administration is opposed "to the idea of rewarding someone for their aggression, particularly at a time when we are talking about creating a new world order, or particularly at a time when we are talking about dealing with the first real crisis of the post-Cold War era."

The secretary also met yesterday with Yevgeny M. Primakov, who recently visited Iraq as a Soviet emissary. The State Department provided no comments on the meeting, but one official said that Mr. Primakov had no new information to relay.

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