Gorbachev opposes use of force to drive Iraq out

October 30, 1990|By Diana Jean Schemo | Diana Jean Schemo,Paris Bureau of The Sun

RAMBOUILLET, France -- Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev came out squarely yesterday against a military attack to force Iraq out of Kuwait, calling instead for stricter sanctions by the United Nations and a diplomatic initiative from Arab states to end the crisis.

Speaking after four meetings with French President Francois Mitterrand Sunday night and yesterday, Mr. Gorbachev said that he thought Iraq was beginning "to heed the view of all the United Nations."

The position of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein "is not the same as it was some time ago," Mr. Gorbachev said. "I think there's been some reflection" on his part.

"I think it's unacceptable to have a military solution to this problem," he said. He added that there were "now, more than ever, arguments in favor of solving the situation by using the Arab factor."

He called for a meeting of Arab leaders, perhaps under a Saudi Arabian initiative, to find a diplomatic solution to the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, and he urged stepping up the political pressure on Iraq through tougher U.N. sanctions.

"We cannot allow and should never give grounds for the Iraqi regime to think and hope there will be a disharmony or weakening of positions," Mr. Gorbachev said.

Although aides to the French president had hinted that the two leaders might sign a common declaration on the situation in the Persian Gulf region, important differences emerged between the French and Soviet positions.

While the 12 members of the European Community, which includes France, agreed Sunday in Rome to discourage contacts with Iraq to gain freedom for their hostages, Mr. Gorbachev said yesterday that he felt bound to do whatever he could to win the release of an estimated 3,000 Soviet citizens in Iraq.

He added that Moscow had created a special government commission to gain the freedom of Soviet hostages. "We cannot give up," he said.

Mr. Mitterrand did not rule out recourse to military attack if U.N. sanctions should fail, though he is known to prefer steps charted by the United Nations rather than Washington. "All this does not preclude the desire to find a peaceful solution, but it must remain in conformity with international law," he said.

Mr. Gorbachev appeared to leave the door open for concessions to Iraq.

The two leaders spoke after signing a treaty at the 16th-century chateau of Rambouillet pledging cooperation and French assistance as Moscow moved toward a market economy.

France will provide the Soviet Union with $1 billion in aid, $1 billion in financial credits, technical and managerial training, and cooperation on nuclear energy technology, transportation, high-definition television, telecommunications and scientific research.

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