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Reagan Gives Iran 24 Hrs. to Accept U.N. Cease-Fire

September 21, 1987|Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS — President Reagan confronted Iran at the United Nations today with a demand that it "clearly and unequivocally" accept a cease-fire in the Persian Gulf War with Iraq or face a worldwide arms embargo spearheaded by the United States.

Reagan set a new deadline of 24 hours for Tehran to accept the cease-fire resolution approved unanimously July 20 by the U.N. Security Council.

Referring to the speech Iranian President Ali Khamenei is scheduled to deliver Tuesday morning to the 42nd U.N. General Assembly session, Reagan said: "I take this opportunity to call upon him clearly and unequivocally to state whether Iran accepts 598 (the resolution) or not.

"If the answer is positive, it would be a welcome step and major breakthrough. If it is negative, the council has no choice but rapidly to adopt enforcement measures."

Reagan urged the Soviet Union to join the U.S.-led effort to end the war, which enters its eighth year Wednesday, and to stop spreading "the false accusation that somehow the United States--rather than the war itself--is the source of tension in the gulf. Such statements are not helpful."

Reagan said he ordered a Navy buildup in the gulf to protect oil shipments of strategic importance to the economies of the free world "and to prevent the domination of the region by any hostile power."

"When the tension diminishes, so will our presence," he said.

Before taking the rostrum, Reagan met privately with U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, who returned to New York last Wednesday after two days of talks in Iran and Iraq on the cease-fire resolution.

A senior Administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Reagan told the U.N. secretary general that he is "skeptical about Iran's intentions" in regard to the Iran-Iraq War.

The official said Perez de Cuellar replied that "Iran feels they have already made concessions" and that "Iran gave no definitive answer on a cease-fire" during his recent trip.

Reagan also called on Peter Florin of East Germany, the new president of the General Assembly, and asked him to officiate with "impartiality" over assembly proceedings.

Vision of Future Outlined

Reagan outlined his "vision of the world's future" in an annual address that took a relatively mild stance toward the Soviet Union except for the criticism over the gulf and a demand for immediate withdrawal of the Soviet army from Afghanistan.

"After nearly eight years, a million casualties, nearly 4 million others driven into exile and more intense fighting than ever--it's time for the Soviet Union to leave," he declared.

The delegates from Iran and Afghanistan were not in their places in the hall for Reagan's 25-minute speech. Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze listened closely and took some notes, but did not join in the polite applause when Reagan finished.

Shevardnadze to Speak

Declining to appraise the President's remarks, Shevardnadze said afterward: "I will give a speech" on Wednesday.

Before Reagan spoke, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati told reporters "we should consider" any U.S. call for an immediate response to the cease-fire order.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Tarik Aziz, whose government had quickly accepted the order, said he was pleased with Reagan's remarks.

"That statement is very clear, and it is in full conformity with the spirit and letter of Resolution 598. And we hope that all other Security Council members will take the same clear position in order to enhance the efforts to implement the resolution in full."

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