Rep. McMillen backs Bush's new deadline for Iraq's withdrawal Marylanders in Congress express reservations about peace proposal.

February 22, 1991|By John Fairhall | John Fairhall,Evening Sun Staff

President Bush "is right" in setting a deadline tomorrow for Iraq to begin withdrawing from Kuwait, Rep. Tom McMillen, D-4th, said today.

"I think the patience of our government is wearing thin and I think the president's afraid this thing can get into some convoluted and extended negotiation without any progress," McMillen said.

Other Maryland members of Congress said earlier the Soviet peace plan, whose deficiencies helped prompt Bush's action today, fell short of meeting the allies' goals. They remained pessimistic about avoiding a ground war.

But one Maryland lawmaker, Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-7th, said the peace plan, revealed last night, is a hopeful development, and he urged negotiations.

"The Soviet proposal as accepted by the Iraqi government represents a significant first step in the process of peaceful resolution of this conflict," Mfume said in a statement. "It should not be summarily rejected out of hand because it represents the opening overture for a process of negotiations.

"In light of the current situation, the president would be making a grave mistake to sacrifice the lives of American soldiers in a ground war at this time."

Others in the Maryland delegation did not go that far and said it is up to Bush and his military commanders to make the decision on a ground invasion.

"I'm not going to get optimistic considering the track record of Saddam Hussein," said Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-3rd. "I'm very suspicious. You wonder if there are conditions we don't know about."

Cardin said that at this stage of the war, with Iraq having "caused us to go through an awful lot of pain," it's "just not that simple" that Iraq pull out.

He said he wants assurances that Iraq won't be able to use chemical and nuclear weapons and that Iraq will have "respect for the borders of its neighbors."

Echoing Cardin's remarks, Rep. Constance Morella, R-8th, said the allies' efforts would be wasted if the United Nations resolutions weren't all observed.

She said the Soviet plan contains "too many conditions with even more to come . . . To accept it would mean it's all for naught."

Rep. Helen D. Bentley, R-2nd, said, "From what I understand this leaves Saddam Hussein intact for what he has left, and he could build up again, and we don't want that."

"I think it's a sign of hope that they're hurting enough they're making efforts to, as we might say, pull off the dogs," Bentley said.

Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, D-5th, termed the peace plan "questionable" because it doesn't address all the U.N. resolutions and in particular Kuwait's territorial integrity.

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