British optimism curbed WAR IN THE GULF

January 21, 1991|By Gilbert A. Lewthwaite | Gilbert A. Lewthwaite,London Bureau of The Sun

LONDON -- Two British leaders sought to curb expectations of a quick victory, and the cost of the war was further brought home by the overnight loss of a third Royal Air Force Tornado fighter-bomber in an attack on an Iraqi air base.

Prime Minister John Major warned that the war could last "quite a few weeks."

Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd also said that the war might not be short and that an invasion of Iraqi territory was possible "as long as it is clear that that is necessary to secure the objectives of the United Nations. . . . It will depend on what happens between now and then."

The British have been the most committed of the United States' allies, and opinion polls show overwhelming support for the action against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Mr. Hurd acknowledged that Mr. Hussein might survive in power after defeat "for a short time in that position of humiliation and defeat. That is not a matter for us."

He added: "We should not be personalizing it on one man. He is an evil and ruthless man. It will be a good thing if he were not there."

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