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Truce Hopes Dim as U.N., Iran Talks End

September 14, 1987|MICHAEL ROSS | Times Staff Writer

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar ended two days of talks in Tehran on Sunday without apparently securing Iran's acceptance of the U.N. Security Council's demand for a cease-fire in the Iran-Iraq War.

Tehran radio quoted Iranian President Ali Khamenei as telling the U.N. chief that Iran could accept no peace settlement that did not both condemn and punish Iraq for starting the war seven years ago.

Citing the Nuremberg trials of Nazi World War II leaders as a precedent, Khamenei proposed a similar trial for Iraq, saying that merely identifying the Iraqis as the "aggressors" in the war would not be enough.

"The only formula acceptable to our nation is one that includes the punishment of the aggressor," Tehran radio quoted him as saying.

"The pious and struggling Iranian people," he added, "will never bow to pressure" to settle for less.

After meeting with Khamenei, Perez de Cuellar flew to Baghdad, where he was to hold two days of talks with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and other officials before returning to New York to report to the Security Council on the outcome of his weeklong peace mission.

Based on the Iranian media's accounts, diplomats said it was unclear if Perez de Cuellar had made any progress towards a settlement of the war, which, with the arrival of U.S. and other foreign warships in the Persian Gulf, now threatens to escalate into a wider conflict.

However, since Iran was still publicly insisting on conditions that are certain to be unacceptable to Iraq, it was clear that the secretary general had not made enough progress, and it appeared unlikely that he would make further headway while in Baghdad.

U.S. Urging Arms Embargo

The stage thus appeared to be set for a U.S.-led effort to impose a mandatory arms embargo against Iran, in line with the Security Council's July 20 resolution threatening sanctions against the belligerent that refuses to accept its cease-fire call.

Led by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, a diplomatic offensive against Iran is also gaining momentum in the Arab world.

Ending a two-day meeting in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, foreign ministers from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council on Sunday denounced Iran for "acts of sedition and troublemaking" and said they have agreed to take a "unified position" at next week's meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Tunisia.

The meeting is a follow-up to one held last month, when the league gave Iran until Sept. 20 to comply with Resolution 598, the U.N. Security Council's call for a cease-fire.

Although the ministers balked at Saudi Arabia's request that the league's 21 member states sever diplomatic relations with Iran, they promised to "re-evaluate" their position if Iran had not accepted the Security Council call by the time of their next meeting.

Saudis Commended

Sunday's statement by the six Cooperation Council ministers expressed support for Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in their deepening confrontation with Iran, which has sought to destabilize both countries because of their support for Iraq in the gulf war.

The communique commended Saudi Arabia's handling of last month's riots by Iranian pilgrims in Mecca and denounced recent Iranian missile attacks against Kuwait, warning that "any attack on any member" would be taken as an aggression against the council's states as a whole.

The council, which represents Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman, also urged Iran to "respond favorably to the will of the international community" by accepting the Security Council's cease-fire appeal.

The Security Council dispatched Perez de Cuellar to the region last week to elicit a "definitive and unambiguous" response from the two sides to the resolution, which calls for a cease-fire, a return to internationally-recognized boundaries, an exchange of prisoners and a commission to investigate and assess responsibility for the war.

Iraq Ready to Accept

However, since Iraq had already said it would accept the resolution if Iran did, the only real issue in question during Perez de Cuellar's mission was whether the Iranians could be persuaded to do likewise.

Despite several conciliatory statements by Iranian leaders praising the secretary general's peace efforts, it was apparent from Khamenei's comments that Iran was not ready to end the war on those terms.

In the past, Iran has said that the war can end only if Iraq admits responsibility for starting the war, pays Tehran billions of dollars in war reparations and removes President Hussein from power.

The inclusion in the Security Council resolution of a recommendation that a committee be set up to investigate the origins of the war was meant to address Tehran's demand for a historical accounting.

But Tehran radio said that Khamenei, while thanking Perez de Cuellar for his "sensitivity" towards Iran's feelings in the matter, has made it clear that sympathy is not enough.

To be acceptable to Iran, a U.N. initiative "should not just set up a cease-fire but should also confront the aggression that has taken place," Khamenei said.

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