Public Papers - 1991 - February
Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the Persian Gulf Conflict
The Soviet announcement yesterday represents a serious and useful effort which is appreciated. But major obstacles remain. The coalition for many months has sought a peaceful resolution to this crisis, in keeping with the U.N. resolutions. As President Bush pointed out to President Gorbachev, the steps the Iraqis are considering would constitute a conditional withdrawal and would also prevent the full implementation of relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. Also there is no indication that Iraq is prepared to withdraw immediately.
Full compliance with the Security Council resolutions has been a consistent and necessary demand of the international community. The world must make sure that Iraq has, in fact, renounced its claim to Kuwait and accepted all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Indeed, only the Security Council can agree to lift sanctions against Iraq, and the world needs to be assured in concrete terms of Iraq's peaceful intentions before such action can be taken. In a situation where sanctions have been lifted, Saddam Hussein could simply revert to using his oil resources once again, not to provide for the well-being of his people but instead to re-arm.
So, in a final effort to obtain Iraqi compliance with the will of the international community, the United States, after consulting with the Government of Kuwait and her other coalition partners, declares that a ground campaign will not be initiated against Iraqi forces if, prior to noon Saturday, February 23, New York time, Iraq publicly accepts the following terms and authoritatively communicates that acceptance to the United Nations:
First, Iraq must begin large-scale withdrawal from Kuwait by noon New York time, Saturday, February 23. Iraq must complete military withdrawal from Kuwait in 1 week. Given the fact that Iraq invaded and occupied Kuwait in a matter of hours, anything longer than this from the initiation of the withdrawal would not meet Resolution 660's requirement of immediacy.
Within the first 48 hours, Iraq must remove all its forces from Kuwait City and allow for the prompt return of the legitimate government of Kuwait. It must withdraw from all prepared defenses along the Saudi-Kuwait and Saudi-Iraq borders, from Bubiyan and Warbah Islands, and from Kuwait's Rumaylah oilfield within the 1 week specified above. Iraq must return all its forces to their positions of August 1st, in accordance with Resolution 660.
In cooperation with the International Red Cross, Iraq must release all prisoners of war and third country civilians being held against their will and return the remains of killed and deceased servicemen. This action must commence immediately with the initiation of the withdrawal and must be completed within 48 hours.
Iraq must remove all explosives or booby traps, including those on Kuwaiti oil installations, and designate Iraqi military liaison officers to work with Kuwaiti and other coalition forces on the operational details related to Iraq's withdrawal, to include the provision of all data on the location and nature of any land or sea mines.
Iraq must cease combat aircraft flights over Iraq and Kuwait except for transport aircraft carrying troops out of Kuwait, and allow coalition aircraft exclusive control over and use of all Kuwaiti airspace.
It must cease all destructive actions against Kuwaiti citizens and property and release all Kuwaiti detainees.
The United States and its coalition partners reiterate that their forces will not attack retreating Iraqi forces and, further, will exercise restraint so long as withdrawal proceeds in accordance with the above guidelines and there are no attacks on other countries.
Any breach of these terms will bring an instant and sharp response from coalition forces in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 678.
That's the conclusion of our prepared statement.
Let me just add a couple of points -- first of all, that a copy of this document was provided to Iraqi diplomats here in Washington about noon today. President Bush and Secretary Baker spoke with President Gorbachev for over an hour and 15 minutes this morning to discuss this situation. Secretary Baker spoke with Soviet Foreign Ministry officials both yesterday and today. And we have consulted with all of our allies and coalition partners last night or this morning. The coalition remains strong and united.
Note: Press Secretary Fitzwater read this statement to reporters at 12:48 p.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House. The statement referred to President Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union, President Saddam Hussein of Iraq, and Secretary of State James A. Baker III.