Baker confident that coalition is committed to military action

January 14, 1991|By Gilbert A. Lewthwaite | Gilbert A. Lewthwaite,Sun Staff Correspondent

ALCONBURY, England -- Secretary of State James A. Baker III ended his tour of European and Arab countries in the anti-Iraq alliance yesterday, confident they were committed to military action in the Persian Gulf "sooner rather than later."

"It seems to me that the international coalition is well-prepared politically, economically and militarily for any eventuality as we move toward midnight Jan. 15," said Mr. Baker.

[Earlier, in Ankara, Turkey, Mr. Baker said that, except for Syria, the nations of the anti-Iraq coalition were in agreement on the timing and necessity of force to dislodge Iraq from Kuwait after midnight Tuesday, the New York Times reported.

[U.S. officials indicated that no further consultations were necessary, save for the precise hour of attack, unless Iraq makes some serious gesture to leave Kuwait before the deadline. Baker said that of the 28 nations with "ground forces" in Saudi Arabia, only Syria's 15,000-man force was not certain to take part in any offensive action to dislodge Iraqi troops from Kuwait and would prefer instead to confine its role to simply defending Saudi Arabia.]

During his Alconbury stop, Mr. Baker asserted that the timing of events in the gulf would not be affected by the Soviet crackdown in the Baltics.

Tomorrow's deadline for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait remained "serious" and "real," Mr. Baker said.

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