Egypt explores face-saving plan for Iraqi leader

November 08, 1990|By Mark Matthews | Mark Matthews,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- Amid growing international determination to expel Iraq from Kuwait by military force if necessary, Egypt is still broaching the possibility of a face-saving way out for Saddam Hussein.

It calls for Mr. Hussein to declare that he is starting to withdraw from Kuwait and to seek "an Arab summit to reach an understanding about how to resolve the conflict."

Such a summit "could then be convened immediately to take further steps to send Arab forces to replace the withdrawing Iraqi forces and to discuss the main causes for the conflict in a bid to reach an Arab solution satisfactory to all parties."

The plan was included in a column by Ibrahim Nafei, editor-in-chief of the semiofficial newspaper Al-Ahram, that was published last week and made available by the Egyptian Embassy here. Mr. Nafei is understood to have close ties to President Hosni Mubarak.

In a meeting this week with Secretary of State James A. Baker III, Mr. Mubarak reaffirmed his opposition to a "partial solution" short of Iraqi withdrawal and restoration of Kuwait's rulers, U.S. officials said.

Mr. Nafei's proposal doesn't depart significantly from that position. Rather, Arab sources said, it represents a stepped-up diplomatic search for a face-saving solution for Mr. Hussein as the alternative -- war -- seems increasingly likely.

A State Department official did not dismiss the proposal outright but described it as just the latest in a series of ideas floated by prominent Arabs that had met nothing but intransigence on the part of Iraq.

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