Report: Saddam willing to quit Kuwait, except for oil field

LONDON -- Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is willing to withdraw his troops from Kuwait to avoid war provided he is allowed to keep an oil field captured during the invasion, it was reported Tuesday.

Sky Television News, a London-based satellite TV network, reported that Saddam will make the offer to Secretary of State James Baker when he visits Baghdad later this month in hopes of settling the crisis without going to war.


The report said the deal was discussed in New York after last Thursday's U.N. Security Council vote ordering Iraq out of Kuwait by Jan. 15 or face the threat of force from the U.S.-dominated multinational force that gathered in the Persian Gulf area after Iraq's Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait.

The network said the U.S. reponse last week was negative. The State Department Tuesday said it had no comment on the report.

The network also said Saddam has met privately in recent weeks with 'senior international mediators' to seek a peaceful settlement to the situation.

A 'source close to one of the mediators' said that in return for a guarantee of no Western attack, Iraq would withdraw from Kuwait except for the Rumaila oil field, which straddles Kuwait and Iraq, and was Iraq's reason for invading Kuwait.


Iraq also would be willing to return the strategic islands of Bubiyan and Werba, provided it could discuss leasing them from the Kuwaitis, the source told Sky.

Saddam has indicated he would accept the restoration of the Kuwaiti royal family to power as part of the deal, Sky said.

Baghdad has dropped its demand that the Israeli-Palestinian issue be linked to any negotiations about its withdrawl from Kuwait, Sky quoted the source as saying.

Saddam's offer would allow Iraq to keep part of the spoils from its invasion, which the United States and other nations have said is unacceptable.

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