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Public Papers - 1990 - August

Excerpts of a Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the Persian Gulf Crisis

1990-08-11

President Bush called President Mubarak of Egypt at 5:45 a.m. this morning to congratulate him on the successful outcome of the Arab League meeting. President Bush praised President Mubarak's constructive role in securing passage of the resolution to send Arab troops to participate in a multinational force. The President said the Arab League action was very favorable and gives us significant optimism for the future of the mission.

President Bush this morning also telephoned Amir `Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa of Bahrain to thank him for his efforts on behalf of the resolution and to discuss the situation generally. President Bush plans to call Amir Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar.

The United States welcomes the participation of forces from so many countries in our joint efforts to fight the aggression of Saddam Hussein. Military participation by Canada, Australia, West Germany, France, Belgium, and the United Kingdom signal a high degree of unity. We expect others to join this group as well. The NATO pledge of support was also important with so many individual countries bringing their resources to bear on the situation.

We are pleased to confirm that 11 Americans, including Penelope Nabokov, have been able to leave Iraq and cross the border into Jordan. We do not have details on their departure, but it is encouraging that this group has been able to join other Americans in leaving Iraq and Kuwait. Our Embassy is in contact almost hourly with Iraqi officials concerning the safety of U.S. citizens.

There are news reports this morning in three different publications showing three different levels of eventual troop strength in Saudi Arabia. We will not comment on these stories nor provide any numbers on troop strength for obvious national security reasons. Similarly, we will have no comment on the stories today about a possible blockade. We have said in the past that planning for a blockade is underway, should it be necessary.

Right now the United Nations sanctions are being widely implemented, and there is no Iraqi oil leaving Turkey or Saudi Arabia. The embargo appears to be having a considerable effect. We are pleased that Venezuela, Iran, and other countries have indicated ability to make up for oil shortfalls. Fortunately, oil stocks in the United States are quite high, and the surge capacity around the world is also high. America is in a very positive situation in terms of its ability to withstand existing oil disruptions.

Note: The statement referred to President Saddam Hussein of Iraq and to Penelope Nabokov, a 10-year-old girl from Albany, CA, who was taken into custody by Iraqi troops on August 2, when her commercial air flight was grounded in Kuwait City during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

Material from the statement that pertained to the President's stay at his home in Kennebunkport, ME, has been included in Appendix A at the end of this volume.

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