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U.S. Warns It Would Strongly Oppose an Attempted Iraqi Invasion of Jordan

The Bush administration has warned Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that any attempt to move Iraqi troops into Jordan would be strongly opposed by the United States.

“I think his invasion of Jordan we would treat in a similar manner to his invasion of Kuwait,” Brent Scowcroft, President Bush’s national security adviser, said Sunday on CBS-TV’s “Face the Nation” program.

Scowcroft indicated that the United States would act against an invasion of Jordan partly to keep Israel out of the U.S.-led international effort to force Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait.

Israel has remained on the sidelines of the international effort in which economic sanctions have been taken against Iraq and troops from Egypt, Morocco and Syria are joining U.S. forces to defend Saudi Arabia against any attempted Iraqi invasion.

The government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir has warned that while the takeover of Kuwait does not threaten Israel’s security, Israel would act if Iraq moved on Jordan.

“This is not an Arab-Israeli issue,” Scowcroft stressed.

“I think to turn it into an Arab-Israeli issue is not in anybody’s interest — the Arabs, the U.S., the Israelis,” he said.

“We ought to keep the focus on what it is, that is, the civilized world rising up against a clear case of unbridled brutal aggression.”

But Scowcroft said that Hussein of Iraq is trying “to turn the Arab world against what is going on by involving the Israelis as a possibility.”

From the beginning of his invasion against Kuwait, Hussein has sought to label the U.S.-led opposition as “American-Zionist intervention.”

LINK TO TERRITORIES REJECTED

Hussein’s latest effort to link his aggression with the Arab-Israeli conflict was his announcement Sunday that Iraq would not withdraw from Kuwait until Israel withdraws from “all occupied areas,” Syrian troops leave Lebanon and U.S. troops pull out of Saudi Arabia.

In Jerusalem, Israel’s Foreign Ministry rejected Hussein’s proposal, calling it a “propaganda ploy to divert world opinion from the main issue: a large country devouring a small neighbor in naked, unprovoked aggression.

President Bush rejected the proposal in a statement to reporters Sunday at his vacation home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

“I don’t see anything to be pleasing in there at all,” Bush said. “None, nothing.”

In Washington, State Department spokes-woman Margaret Tutwiler said Monday that Hussein’s proposal was “absurd, ridiculous and ludicrous.”

The tying together of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and Israel’s “occupation” of the territories is a “false linkage,” she said.

(JTA correspondent David Landau in Jerusalem contributed to this report.)

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