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Arab Leaders Chart Strategy in Gulf

December 29, 1987|From Times Wire Services

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Arab leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council heard Kuwait's grievances against Iran on Monday, then began drafting a communique on a three-day meeting that focused on a joint strategy among the six member nations to protect their coastlines and oil tankers from Iranian attack.

Political analysts predicted that the final communique would neither sharply condemn Iran nor call for sanctions, despite harsh criticism of Tehran by Saudi Arabia's King Fahd who presided at the meeting.

Kuwait is a neighbor of Iraq, Iran's opponent in the seven-year-old Persian Gulf War, and the tiny emirate in the northern end of the gulf is the most directly threatened among the council's member nations by spillovers from the land war or attacks on oil lifelines. After a series of attacks on its ships in the gulf last spring, Kuwait placed 11 of its tankers under U.S. registry and received U.S. Navy protection in the gulf.

Kuwait's move to obtain U.S. support was endorsed by its moderate Arab allies, but the gulf states have resisted pressure by both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to sever diplomatic ties with Iran.

In the war Monday, Iran said its coastal batteries shelled and set ablaze a large Iraqi munitions ship in the northern gulf. The Iranian national news agency IRNA, monitored in Cyprus, said the vessel was hit near Iraq's Al Amaya terminal, 15 miles south of the Shatt al Arab border between the two warring states.

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