Some lawmakers downplay Soviet peace plan Mfume sees hope Marylanders in Congress express reservations about peace proposal.

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

Several Maryland members of Congress say the Soviet peace plan falls short of meeting the allies' goals and they remain pessimistic about avoiding a ground war.

But one Maryland lawmaker, Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-7th, sees the peace plan as a hopeful development and urges 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," Mfume said.

Other lawmakers do not go that far and say 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," says Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-3rd. "I'm very suspicious. You wonder if there are conditions we don't know about."

Cardin says 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 says 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."

Cardin says that while the Soviet proposal is studied the air war should continue and Iraq should be given no guarantee that a ground war won't begin in the meantime.

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

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

"We all look for glimmers of hope," Morella says. But she says she is not optimistic "about diplomacy coming through at this point."

Rep. Helen D. Bentley, R-2nd, predicts that Bush would hold off on a ground war for the time being, in part because of the continuing effectiveness of the air war. But she rejects the Soviet plan.

"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," she says.

Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, D-5th, terms 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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