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Public Papers - 1991

Statement on a Proposed Meeting Between Foreign Minister Tariq `Aziz of Iraq and Secretary of State James A. Baker III


More than 1 month ago, on November 30, I proposed that Iraqi Foreign Minister `Aziz travel to Washington to meet with me late in the week of December 10, to be followed shortly thereafter by a trip to Baghdad by Secretary of State James Baker. I did so ``to go the extra mile for peace'' and to demonstrate our commitment to all aspects of U.N. Security Council Resolution 678, including its ``pause for goodwill,'' designed to give Iraq one final opportunity to withdraw unconditionally from Kuwait on or before January 15.

While I offered 15 days during which Secretary Baker was prepared to travel to Baghdad, including Christmas, Saddam Hussein showed himself to be more interested in manipulating my offer to his advantage than in a serious response. He was not too busy to see on short notice a wide range of individuals, including Kurt Waldheim, Willy Brandt, Muhammad Ali, Ted Heath, John Connally, and Ramsey Clark, but he was too busy to find even a few hours to meet with the Secretary of State of the United States. Today marks the last of the 15 dates we suggested, and that effort is therefore at an end.

Secretary Baker is departing on January 6 for several days of close consultations with coalition partners as the UNSC date of January 15 approaches. While I am not prepared to repeat my previous offer, rejected by Saddam Hussein, I am ready to make one last attempt to go the extra mile for peace. I have therefore offered through CDA Joe Wilson in Baghdad to have Secretary Baker meet with Iraqi Foreign Minister `Aziz in Switzerland during the period January 7 - 9, while he is traveling on his consultations.

This offer is being made subject to the same conditions as my previous attempt: no negotiations, no compromises, no attempts at face-saving, and no rewards for aggression. What there will be if Iraq accepts this offer is simply and importantly an opportunity to resolve this crisis peacefully.

Note: This statement referred to President Saddam Hussein of Iraq; President Kurt Waldheim of Austria; Willy Brandt, former Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany; Muhammad Ali, former world heavyweight boxing champion; Edward Heath, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; John B. Connally, former Secretary of the Treasury; Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General; and Joseph C. Wilson IV, Charge d'Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.

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