LONODN — LONDON -- The European Community renewed its invitation yesterday to Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz to visit Luxembourg for talks with European leaders after his scheduled meeting Wednesday with U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III.
Iraq turned down the EC's initial invitation, which was issued after a meeting of EC foreign ministers Friday, saying that European policy on the crisis was being dictated by Washington.
Mr. Baker arrived here last night at the start of his European war-or-peace mission. He is to open a series of exchanges today with European leaders prior to his diplomatic showdown with Mr. Aziz.
[During his flight to London, Mr. Baker told reporters that the United States could not support a French plan for resolving the vTC Persian Gulf crisis because it linked an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait to a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, according to the New York Times.
[The French plan was endorsed Friday by the 12-member EC. It called for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait in return for a promise that it would not be attacked and with the understanding there would later be an international conference to try to settle outstanding Mideast conflicts.
[Mr. Baker also told reporters that he expected the Soviet Union to send the Iraqis a message before the Geneva meeting insisting that Baghdad withdraw its troops from Kuwait before the U.N. Jan. 15 deadline.]
Mr. Baker's first European meeting will be with British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd, the staunchest of U.S. supporters, and the two are expected to stress that only Iraq's total and unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait can avert war.
Mr. Baker then will fly to Paris for talks there before heading for his rendezvous with Mr. Aziz in Geneva.
Britain's Prime Minister John Major also began a foreign tour yesterday, leaving London for the Persian Gulf carrying his own gas mask. He will spend four days in the region.