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Public Papers - 1991 - February

Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the Persian Gulf Conflict


We continue to prosecute the war. We have heard no reason to change that. And because there is a war on, our first concern must be the safety and security of United States and coalition forces.

We don't know whether this most recent claim about Iraqi withdrawal is genuine. We have no evidence to suggest the Iraqi army is withdrawing. In fact, Iraqi units are continuing to fight. Moreover, we remember when Saddam Hussein's tanks pretended to surrender at Khafji, only to turn and fire. We remember the Scud attacks today, and Saddam's many broken promises of the past. There are at least an additional 22 dead Americans tonight who offer silent testimony to the intentions of Saddam Hussein.

The statement out of Baghdad today says that Saddam Hussein's forces will fight their way out while retreating. We will not attack unarmed soldiers in retreat. But we will consider retreating combat units as a movement of war.

The only way Saddam Hussein can persuade the coalition of the seriousness of his intentions would be for him personally and publicly to agree to the terms of the proposal we issued on February 22. And because the announcement from Baghdad referred to the Soviet initiative, he must personally and publicly accept explicitly all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, including especially U.N. Security Council Resolution 662, which calls for Iraqi recision of its purported annexation of Kuwait, and U.N. Security Council Resolution 674 which calls for Iraqi compensation to Kuwait and others.

That's the end of the statement. I might just add that the President met with his national security advisers for approximately an hour and 15 minutes this evening to consider this matter, and the President has returned to his Residence.

Note: Press Secretary Fitzwater read the statement to reporters at 10:30 p.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House. The statement referred to President Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

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