WASHINGTON (Feb. 27)
Looking ahead to the future security of the Persian Gulf region, as well as the entire Middle East, the Bush administration has made clear that it wants to destroy Iraq’s offensive military capability while liberating Kuwait.
The administration also has begun planning for the postwar situation in the region, including the next step in the Arab-Israeli peace process.
President Bush and Secretary of State James Baker met Wednesday with British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd and will hold similar meetings Thursday and Friday with the French and German foreign ministers, Roland Dumas and Hans-Dietrich Genscher.
“The liberation of Kuwait is almost complete,” Bush told participants at a White House conference Wednesday.
Defense Secretary Dick Cheney said Saddam Hussein’s call on Iraqi troops to mount the “mother of all battles” has become “the mother of all retreats.”
But despite the liberation of Kuwait City and the ongoing retreat of Iraqi forces, the Iraqi president has not yet unconditionally accepted the 12 U.N. Security Council resolutions needed to end the fighting, the White House maintained Wednesday.
It was responding to a letter Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz sent to the United Nations, saying Iraq would abide by the U.N. resolutions if there were an immediate cease-fire and an end to the worldwide economic sanctions and blockade against Iraq.
“This is still a conditional offer and falls far short of what is necessary,” White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said.
While telling the American Legion that the end of the fighting is only a few days away, Cheney said the liberation of Kuwait would not mark the completion of the coalition’s goals.
“Even after we’ve achieved our military objectives, even after we’ve destroyed (Hussein’s) offensive military capability and expelled his forces from Kuwait, liberated Kuwait, the world will still be vitally interested in the future course of events with respect to the kinds of activities and policies pursued by the government in Baghdad,” Cheney said.
He explained that this means “Saddam Hussein or whoever is in power in Baghdad does not use the enormous wealth of Iraq to simply build a brand new military machine that once again threatens the peace and stability of the region.”